Why learning outside the classroom is important and how you can help…..

Everyone who offers support to schools is playing a crucial part in the development of the younger generation of our country. Pupils get to visit new places, meet new people and consider everything they already know in a new setting. Sometimes in the daily run of life it can be easy to forget the role you are playing in the bigger picture but it is an important one.

Why learning outside the classroom is important and how you can help......

Why learning outside the classroom is important and how you can help......

Benefits of learning outside the classroom.

Learning outside the classroom is linked to benefits in the following areas.

- Learning - Pupils learn 90% of what they do and only 10% of what they hear. Getting the chance to have a go at a new skill in a new place is invaluable.

- Emotional health – Broadening horizons and meeting new people can give pupils a fresh perspective.

- Nature deficit – Actually this should be ‘world deficit’. There are so many barriers to children going out to play and families going to new places, children are experiencing less and less of the world around them.

- Social mobility – Children can see themselves in a new light and build new aspirations.

- Educational inequality addressed – For all those families who do not have easy access to affordable museums the school trip helps to readdress the balance.

- School attendance – students who are engaged in longer term projects away from the classroom also show better attendance in the classroom.

- Raises standards back in the classroom – the high quality learning outside the classroom is carried back into the classroom. This could be through renewed enthusiasm, contextualised learning or raised self-esteem.

- Physical health – fresh air and exercise is a welcome change from sitting in a classroom all day.

Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto.

Learning outside the classroom is so important that the government introduced the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto and established the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (www.lotc.org.uk ). The aim of this was to raise awareness and support teachers and providers in planning high quality learning experiences. Centres who provide Learning Outside the Classroom experiences can apply for accreditation and receive the LOtC Quality Badge.

Despite all the evidence that Learning Outside the Classroom is invaluable to the student experience many teachers still find it difficult to organise trips during school time and using school funds.

Reasons why schools don’t run trips.

Many schools run brilliant trips, but still in some schools there are too many barriers for teachers to work through. Here are a few of the reasons why school trips may not get organised.

- Curriculum restraints – School trips that have a cross-curricular theme are more likely to be given the green light by leadership teams. Many schools are reluctant to let students miss English and Maths, or let the teachers out of school. They have to know that they are going to get the value back from the lessons missed.

- Timetabling – Some schools timetable in space for school trips. They might timetable in double or triple lessons in order that visitors can come to the school to give talks. Schools also do activity weeks for trips, but other than the designated times no trips can run.

- Teacher Workload – Teachers (along with many other public servants) are incredibly overworked. The planning and organisation required to get 200+ pupils out of the door at one time (or indeed 8 groups of 30 pupils out of the door at different times) is immense. Proposals need to be sent for approval, consent forms need to be collects, there’s money to be chased up, work to be set for those who aren’t going, cover work to be set for missed lessons, risk assessments, transport booking…… Understandably the trip has to be really worth it for teachers to even think about starting the process.

Photo by Susan Chiang/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by Susan Chiang/iStock / Getty Images

How can your education department help schools visit?

If you've read this far then chances are that you are interested in helping school teachers move past these barriers in order to improve education in their classroom. Here are some ideas to help spruce up your education department and the sessions you offer.    

-     Provide resources that sit around the activity. What could classes do before they come to you to help them prepare? What follow up work could teachers do with their pupils afterwards?Email me for your free curriculum consultation.

- Make resources that are at a high level of learning. Teachers won’t always have planned how best to use the experience. As the expert you can help them out by structuring the learning. 

- Look for cross-curricular links to support students spending time outside of school. Show how applicable your experiences are to a wider audience. Teachers from different subjects will be more likely to engage with your visit.

- Put together a package where you visit the school. Can schools borrow your artefacts? When you build up a relationship with the school they will be more likely to rebook and bring pupils to visit you.

- Ensure high quality learning at all times while the pupils are on site. Do your activities engage pupils who are strong in the subject and pupils who might stuggle? Do you have a great learning environment for them to work in?