The last three months have been an exciting time for The Countryside Alliance Foundation’s outdoor education campaign, with us making significant steps forward in our aim to get outdoor education onto the National Curriculum.
On 1st April 2010 the Children, Schools and Families Committee published its report, Transforming
Education Outside the Classroom, which recommends that the Government adopt our proposal for an individual entitlement to outdoor learning to be guaranteed within the National Curriculum. The Countryside Alliance Foundation gave evidence on 3rd March at The Committee’s hearing on reversing the decline in outdoor education.
The Committee's report can be read at: www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmchilsch/418/4...
The Committee’s report also makes recommendations for Government to address the continuing fear of litigation and training teachers to confidently deliver outdoor learning, all of which The Countryside Alliance Foundation proposes action on within our campaign. This represents a huge step forward in our ambition to make outdoor education a part of every child's education. We look forward to receiving the Government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations. However, in the mean time now is a good opportunity to reflect on the other successes of our campaign so far.
The Countryside Alliance Foundation launched its new report, Outdoor education – the countryside as a classroom in March. The report, which can be downloaded at www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk presents our research highlighting the significant demand for outdoor education among children and teachers, the continuing barriers to delivering it and a
number of recommendations for increasing its use in schools. Our report, which was emailed to 20,000 schools across England and Wales has been well received and welcomed by expert organisations including Natural England, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Field Studies Council.
Such support is a welcome boost to our campaign and adds further to drive forward our recommendations – on which we’re making good progress. With teachers citing health and safety as the main barrier to delivering outdoor learning, The Countryside Alliance Foundation and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers are jointly working with local authority education departments
in England and Wales to bring a sense of perspective to the issue of school visits and risk. Only 364 legal claims were made for injuries sustained by children on school visits over a ten year period and the average annual pay out by local authorities was just £293. Hopefully our research highlighting the low risks and high rewards of well managed outdoor education is used to inspire more teachers working in local authorities to make wider use of the countryside as a classroom.
While we’re determined to make outdoor education a part of every single child’s education at the national level, we continue to make it a reality for young people at a local level. Already 350 children have taken part in our Fishing for Schools programme – a nationally accredited course for special
educational needs children to learn about fishing and river ecology is a safe and positive environment. We’re also piloting a similar programme using falconry to engage children in learning, which has already received a positive review in the Sunday Express.
In a climate where hitting Government targets are viewed as the holy grail of educational achievement, outdoor programmes such as ours play a vital role in fostering a better understanding
about farming and the environment among the next generation. When it comes to education Einstein’s words are apt: “not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted”, and The Foundation welcomes support from anyone who understands the value of investment in such an approach to education in young lives.
For more information on our campaign and to download Outdoor education – the countryside as a classroom, please go to: www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk
For more information on The Countryside Alliance Foundation please go to: www.countryside-alliance-foundation.org.uk
A snap shot the media coverage on The Countryside Alliance Foundation outdoor
education campaign so far:
October 2nd The Guardian - Children denied school
trips over teachers' fears of being sued
March 3rd The Independent – School trips suffer due to lack of teacher cover.
8th March. The Independent. Letter from Martin Priestley Headmaster, Warminster School, Wiltshire.
“Children need to go out and learn to live with risk.”
29th March. Sunday Express – ‘Inspiring young minds to soar’. Feature on Falconry for Schools and
outdoor education being a powerful medium for learning.
1st April BBC: Children need more school trips, MP’s committee says - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8597268.stm
1st April Telegraph: MPs warn over ‘shocking decline’ of school trips - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7542270/MPs-warn...
1st April The Guardian: Fewer school trips