Who supports Outdoor Learning and why

"I am happy to place on record that the government supports the role of adventure as part of active education, especially in helping young people to learn about assessing and managing risk, in offering them new and exciting challenges, and in helping them to gain skills in leadership and team working that will be of huge value in their progression to adulthood."
Tony Blair, Prime Minister, September 2001 in support of the English Outdoor Council's 'Campaign for Adventure'.

"We are convinced of the value of adventurous outdoor activities for children and young people."
House of Commons Education Committee 1995.


"During this inquiry, the Committee has become convinced of the value of education outside the classroom in its broadest sense. Outdoor learning supports academic achievement, for example through fieldwork projects, as well as the development of ‘soft’ skills and social skills, particularly in hard to reach children. It can take place on school trips, on visits in the local community or in the school grounds. Yet outdoor education is in decline. "

"The Department should issue a ‘Manifesto for Outdoor Learning’, giving all students a right to outdoor learning. This Manifesto should attract a similar level of funding to the Music Manifesto (£30 million) in order to deliver real change. In particular, schools in deprived circumstances should be enabled to enhance their facilities, to offer professional development programmes to their teachers and to fund off site visits.Education Outside the Classroom."

House of Commons Education and Skills Committee
Education Outside the Classroom, Second Report of Session 2004–05

In 2010, the Select Committee reviewed progress. They said:

"This Committee's predecessor, the Education and Skills Committee, published its Report Education Outside the Classroom in 2005. Since then, a very strong body of evidence has been established to show the benefits to pupils of learning outside the classroom. We call on the Department to increase substantially the resources devoted to learning outside the classroom."

House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee (2010) Transforming education outside the classroom 


However, although the government agrees in principle with the importance of learning outside the classroom, it also believes it should be for schools to decide how to teach and what mediums to use to deliver that teaching.  It did not therefore accept those recommendations of the Committee which call for additional resources, government regulation, monitoring or guidance.

House of Commons Education Committee (2010) Transforming education outside the classroom: Resonses from the government and OFSTED to the sixthe report of the Children, Schools and Families Committee 



"Outdoor activities both at school and on residential courses enable pupils to enjoy challenging and unfamiliar experiences that test and develop their physical, social and personal skills. They can be among the most memorable experiences for pupils of their school-days. This report [Outdoor education, Aspects of good practice] shows that many schools recognise the many benefits of outdoor education but also that we must work harder to ensure pupils in all schools do not miss out on these opportunities."
David Bell, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, September 2004

Education Secretary Ruth Kelly wants to increase the "quality and quantity" of school trips to make them an essential part of every child's education.
Kelly is set to unveil the government's Outdoor Education Manifesto through which schools and outdoor pursuit centres will have to work together to improve opportunities for pupils. The move follows a critical report from a committee of MPs who blamed fear of "compensation culture" for a decline in the number of trips carried out by schools.
Ruth Kelly, Education Secretary, February 2005


"Children need to be taught how to deal with risks in life. We will encourage learning outside the classroom and provide protection for teachers worried about school trips."
Conservative Party Election Manifesto 2005

"To enhance our children's understanding of the environment we will give every school student the opportunity to experience out-of-classroom learning in the natural environment."
Labour Party Election Manifesto 2005

"We believe that out-of-classroom learning is a key part of a good education, and will include the quality of out-of-classroom education in the criteria on which schools are inspected."
Liberal Democrat Election Manifesto 2005

 "We believe every child and young person should experience the world outside the classroom as an integral part of their learning and development, complementing learning in the classroom. High quality education outside the classroom can stimulate and inspire; foster independence; aid personal and social development; and can often motivate reluctant learners. These experiences should be stimulating, safely managed and enjoyable, and contribute to meeting the needs of every child."
Department for Education and Skills, Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto.

"We agree with the Committee that there is a wealth of good practice and many committed teachers, Heads and providers who value the benefits of learning outside the classroom and who make sure pupils experience a range of safe and stimulating activities. We believe these experiences should be widely acknowledged as an essential part of children's education at all stages."
Government response to the Second Report from the Education and Skills Committee, Session 2004-05.

"My Lords, well planned and safely delivered school trips, with learning later reinforced in the classroom, make a valuable contribution to the education of pupils of all ages and abilities. The importance of an enriched curriculum is set out in our Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners. We believe that there are educational and personal benefits to be gained from experiences as diverse as fieldwork, visiting farms, museums and galleries, and outdoor activities."
Baroness Andrews, House of Lords Friday 12th November 2004

"The school curriculum should….enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity."
Department for Education and Skills & QCA, The National Curriculum, "Aims for the School Curriculum" 1999

"There is an essential need for adventure in the education of young people. The human need for excitement and challenge can, if unfulfilled, express itself in anti-social behaviour. Outdoor and adventurous activities have the potential to satisfy the need for excitement and challenge in a positive way."
Curriculum proposals, Secretary of State for Education and Science 1991.

Links to other websites for these (and other) sources of support for Outdoor Learning
Second Report from the Education and Skills Committee, Government response, Session 2004-05.
Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto (2006) Department for Education and Skills,
Epolitix.com February 2005 report on Ruth Kelly's announcement
Tragedies deflect us from our core aims Anthony Seldon, Times Educational Supplement, 2006.

Next: Campaigns for Outdoor Learning or: What are the Benefits of OL?

Index to this Brief Guide to Outdoor Learning
What is OL? Why does OL Matter? What are the Benefits of OL? What does OL research say?
How safe is OL?
Examples of benefits gained from OL
Where to find OL research
How much OL is going on?
Campaigns for OL

OL Research in other journals