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FEATURE FOCUS: SCHOOL TRIPS


achievement as well as personal skills. Young people themselves already recognise the


benefits and there has been a recent increase in demands, often from young people themselves, for more outdoor learning opportunities. The connection to nature and all of the


benefits that it can bring is one strong argument. Another is the desire to be able to do something about climate change and biodiversity loss. Green Jobs are very much on the government agenda, but it’s often these hands-on real-life experiments and experiences that first ignites curiosity and from there can spring an interest in science and lifelong respect for the environment. We know that STEM skills will be in great


knowledge and where additional catch-up support is needed. Not only this, out in the field teachers and their


pupils have opportunity to explore together and being away from the school environment allows time for them to share experiences and get to know each other better. Away from the classroom, learners are less worried about asking for help or speaking in front of their classmates and we know from experience that many teachers adapt their teaching style on returning to school because they have got to know their class so much better.


Re-engaging with learning and building confidence There are other benefits too of course. Waking up in the place that you are studying, being out of the classroom environment and also away from the usual school and class hierarchy can engage and – crucially for those that have missed out so much – re-engage with learning. Being part of a shared experience whether that


is time away from home for the first time, surveying in bad weather, watching wildlife late at night or overcoming the practical problems that come with outdoor practical experiments can bond a group together. Many of our learners comment that it was the encouragement of their peers that helped them try and succeed at new and scary things. Further still, time spent away from home can


help build the confidence of the quieter learners, but also can develop the listening skills of the louder ones. Sharing space – whether that is at mealtimes or by sharing rooms (which will hopefully be possible again post-pandemic) with others that they may not usually mix with, develops social skills and cross-cultural understanding. For younger children, simple life skills such making their own bed or creating a packed lunch adds to a sense of independence and confidence.


Providing opportunities for disadvantaged learners The benefits of residential outdoor learning for disadvantaged learners must also not be forgotten. Easy access to high quality green and blue natural spaces is certainly not available to all, neither are travel opportunities to experience landscapes or places so very different to a learner’s own local area. It’s a mistake to assume that all young people


January 2021 www.education-today.co.uk 27


are highly mobile. We have learners who come to stay that have never left their own city or have never heard of wellington boots. Therefore, a school residential might be a young person’s only opportunity to experience being away from home and have the time, resources and equipment to study their chosen subjects in depth. Often the bureaucracy associated with organising and assessing the safety of outdoor trips can be a barrier we are here to bear that burden and break down that barrier. In 2020, the digital divide reduced the opportunities for disadvantaged learners when compared to their digitally better off peers. The concentrated time, specialist tutors and having easy access to the very natural world that they are studying would be a good use of the catch-up premium.


More than geography and biology Outdoor residential learning is so much more than geography and biology. Climbing ropes at our centres have been used to teach angles and the stunning locations to build vocabulary and appreciate poetry. Ensuring that residential trips offer links directly to the curriculum provides reassurance to hard pressed parents that the experiences offered can boost both academic


demand as will the ability to work with and make sense of messy data generated in non-laboratory situations. STEM skills developed in an outdoor setting with all the extra variables that come from working with, and in, nature can develop those problem solving, quick thinking practical skills. A residential can provide the time to rethink and redesign experiments that didn’t work the first time. The Covid pandemic has shown us just how much we need people who understand the unpredictable natural world.


Building enthusiasm for outdoor learning Whilst overnight residentials cannot currently take place under the government guidelines, there are several options that are available for primary and secondary schools as the FSC prepares to become residential-ready by Easter. Our outreach offer means that we can deliver outdoor learning locally or even on school grounds, which at a time of possible teacher shortages may be of huge benefits to schools. We also have a range of digital programmes


including virtual school trips and digital fieldwork sessions which are continuing to build enthusiasm for outdoor learning ready for when we can welcome our visitors back.


uFor more information, please visit https://www.field-studies- council.org/digital-and-outreach/.


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