As the nights draw in and there is reduced opportunity for children to play outside, the Green Light Trust (GLT), based in Lawshall, is urging schools to give outdoor learning a more prominent place in school development plans.
Greenlight Trust CEO, Ashley Seaborne says, “There is growing evidence that doing so would improve children’s health, development, and improve performance in classroom based subjects.
“Learning in a classroom is not enough. Children should have equal opportunity of learning about and experiencing the outdoors, beyond the playground and the sports field. Not only would young people develop more resilience, but become more confident and more creative. What’s more, doing so will ensure a generation that appreciates the importance of a rich and healthy environment,” he said.
Following the publication of a comprehensive research paper in July, published in Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling PATHWAYS FROM EVIDENCE TO IMPACT REPORT 2016, by Professor Karen Malone and Associate Professor Sue Waite, of Plymouth Institute of Education, there is sound evidence that outdoor learning can have a significant impact on child development, in particular children with special needs.
In it the report refers to studies that showed the pace of family lives, combined with an increased sense of fear and isolation in society. Children are having fewer opportunities to explore their surrounding natural environment.
Ashley says, “This is hindering development of children's social skills as well as endangering their long-term physical, emotional development and wellbeing. Therefore, it is important that schools do not overlook the opportunities that outdoor learning provides to bridge this gap.
“Our own research and experience at GLT demonstrates consistently that as a result of engaging in a regular outdoor learning programme, each week for a term, children who have previously struggled to adapt to classroom learning discipline start to make progress, and in some cases significant change takes place.
“It is worth reflecting on the fact that human evolution, the most successful adapting animal on the planet, occurred outdoors and worked successfully as an existence for millions of years. The survival and innovation skills developed are without doubt evidence of a successful relationship with the environment, compared to the massive increase in time now spent indoors.
“The increase in obesity, depression and social isolation could indicate we have moved too far from the environment in which we clearly achieved well. Is there too greater emphasis on living to learn rather than learning to live?” he said.Return to News