Out and about with students

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Matilda Miles on enriching students’ lives in the natural environment.

Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) is about getting children and young people out and about, providing them with challenging and exciting experiences to help them learn. The places where learning happens can have a significant effect on how a child engages with a subject or an idea. LOtC can be anywhere, outdoors or indoors, in the school grounds, on the high street, in the local park, in museums and art galleries, remote places across the UK, or elsewhere in the world. Outdoor experiences in the natural environment can be highly enriching for all children and benefits their physical and mental wellbeing.

SEND schools may feel daunted by the prospect of getting out and about with their students. But being prepared with the knowledge and confidence of how to plan and carry out a successful visit, it quickly becomes an enjoyable and rewarding experience for students and staff alike. LOtC provides a real opportunity to enhance teacher professional development. Outdoor visits enable teachers to expand on classroom lessons, delivering unique and high-quality learning experiences.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) is a UK wide charity that champions all learning that happens beyond the classroom. Our work supports educators, schools and organisations who are dedicated to ensuring more children and young people have opportunities for life-changing learning experiences beyond the classroom.

Anna Young, a Class Teacher from St Giles Spencer Academy in Derby, shares her experience of a recent outdoor visit with her students. “Four classes recently visited Foremark Reservoir together to explore the geographical features there. This was an amazing opportunity to extend and enhance what children had been learning about in the classroom. Our children at St Giles really benefit from hands-on, practical learning through real life experiences. On our visit, you could see the children’s enthusiasm to explore their surroundings; walking through the woodlands, splashing in puddles and squelching in mud and we saw increased attention, listening, behaviour and enjoyment of their learning experience. As we went with multiple classes it gave us as professionals the opportunity to develop our confidence in delivering LOtC experiences for children with a range of needs and abilities. It enhanced our ability to deliver quality educational experiences in an outdoor environment and developed our behaviour management skills. It also provided the opportunity for us to share good practice, ensuring that we were meeting medical, sensory and communication needs in an outdoor setting.”

St Giles Spencer Academy is just one SEND school that holds the LOtC Mark—a national accreditation that supports and celebrates schools and educational settings who provide meaningful experiences beyond the classroom across the whole curriculum, indoors and out, on and off-site. The support from CLOtC provides a framework for schools to develop their LOtC in a holistic and impactful way. 

The positive outcomes of connecting children with the natural environment really do speak for themselves—with increased attention, learning and plenty of fun to name just a few of the benefits. Knowing that these outdoor visits are also enhancing teachers’ professional development means getting outdoors is a win for all.

Matilda Miles
Author: Matilda Miles

Matilda Miles
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Matilda Miles is the Communications and Marketing Manager for the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

Website:  www.lotc.org.uk
Twitter: @CLOtC 

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