Not a week goes by without me being asked if we have a progression planner for the subject knowledge of outdoor learning, so I thought it was about time I shared this with you all!
Five reasons why we think you do not need such a document!
1. It is a Tool
When Assessment is for Learning first appeared many years ago, my colleagues and I felt somewhat stressed and uncomfortable. It was unfamiliar and felt rather vast and a bit fluffy. Yet now, we use this without giving it much thought. It is simply a tool to support learning and teaching. Outdoor learning is much the same. It covers everything from experiential learning, Forest School, curriculum-based outdoor learning and more. However, as teachers, curriculum-based outdoor learning is most readily available to us without considerable expense in training; this approach means it is just a tool for us to support teaching and learning.
2. It is NOT a Subject
Outdoor learning is not a subject. Instead, it is a tool that can help us deliver any subject within the curriculum. Therefore, limiting outdoor learning to just a plan means restricting the usefulness of this tool, how many curricular areas and outcomes it can cover and ultimately how well it can support children and young people. A framework can be handy and what we have are curriculum maps that link to our lessons. This makes planning simple and creates genuine integration, which is more meaningful.
3. Meeting Expectations
If we have a clear progression or plan, it is easy to set and meet expectations; we do not need to give it thought but instead follow the process. I get why that might be nice. However, we can change the expectation. The expectation I set with the schools we train and our members is that for the first term, all staff will deliver one 15-20 minute outdoor lesson per week (though that lesson is not PE, we are already comfortable delivering this outdoors). By the end of the year, we aim to have three outdoor sessions a week. Again, still 15-20 minutes long. This means outdoor learning can be meaningfully integrated. It is essential to know that we have not picked that time and frequency out of thin air but is the magic time and frequency required to support learning and gain the physiological benefits of outdoor learning. Schools can easily set the same expectation.
4. Long Term Use
Asking teachers or management to create a progression plan means creating a document with no long-term use. Do you recall all the hours put into creating similar documents for new pedagogical approaches over the years that we simply do not use now? A plan will be too restrictive to be used year after year. It misses the magic of what outdoor learning is.
5. We Already Have a Progression Planner
That progression planner is called the curriculum. This provides us with what we need. As children develop their skills and knowledge, using and interacting with the playground or outdoor space will evolve and change. We simply need ideas and support to be able to utilise this.
Of course, we do need to think about how to enhance outdoor learning using the many facets on a broader basis, whether that be school camps, pupil experience days, but on a general everyday level, curriculum-based outdoor learning is a key pedagogical tool.
However, we do believe that outdoor learning also develops a range of wider skills and knowledge which may not be reflected in a standard curriculum. This is why we do have a wider skills progression framework which we share with our members.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!
Love Outdoor Learning offer a range of support for curriculum-based outdoor learning within the nursery, primary and secondary. Our membership resource offers training and lesson ideas throughout the curriculum. We also provide training and support customised to meet your individual school’s needs.
We aim to help support as many educators as possible. We offer free support calls to support them in their learning journey. If you wish to book one, jump over to our diary.