Learning outside the Classroom : Memorable Activities lead to Memorable Learning

Submitted by Andy Barclay on Thu, 05/10/2012 - 10:27

Learning Outside The Classroom

Some time ago I was running a training session on outdoor learning with 40 governors from a cluster of schools in mid-Cornwall. My opening question to them was about the most powerful memory of their schooldays. After a brief discussion there was a quick poll of whether the memory was inside or outside the classroom. No surprise, at least not for me, 39 out of 40 said it was out of doors. Powerful stuff this outdoor learning.

Robin Hammerton (HMI and author of Ofsted’s thematic survey Learning outside the Classroom – how far should you go?) captured it beautifully, stating, “Memorable activities lead to memorable learning.” The learners he spoke to said they enjoyed working outside the classroom as they found it ‘exciting’, ‘practical’, ‘motivating’, ‘refreshing’ and ‘fun.’ They made comments such as

  • 'You see rather than listen.'
  • 'We learn in a fun way.'
  • 'We like learning by doing.'

Learning inside the classroom is a proven method of organising schooling. Our schools however have always valued opportunities for learning that take place beyond the boundaries of the traditional teaching space.

Learners in Cornwall are lucky in that their schools have a rich tradition of outdoor learning ranging across:

  • Activities in the school grounds and the immediate locality
  • Participation in dramatic productions, concerts and other cultural events
  • Clubs, musical groups and sports fixtures within and outside of the school timetable
  • Educational visits that take place within the school day
  • Residential visits in the UK and abroad

If all of the above are included it is estimated that Cornish schools in total undertake around 10,000 outdoor learning experiences per annum. Furthermore our young people benefit from a diverse range of opportunities. Last summer for example saw Cornish students in Europe, South America, North America, Africa and Asia.

Hats off to all the school staff whose hard work enables this to happen and well done to all those parents who enable their children to benefit from these opportunities.

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