What is Outdoor Learning?

Outdoor education has long been recognised as an important contributor in a young persons’ physical, personal and social development. Outdoor Learning is primarily an approach to learning and teaching, through outdoor activities and the use of outdoor spaces for cognitive and non-cognitive development, which provides broader life experiences in the outdoors.

When outdoor learning is designed as a reoccurring, progressive activity which forges links between real-life experiences and classroom experiences.  The overarching theme of Outdoor Learning is the focus on positive outcomes in personal and social development. It is, however, important to remember that these experiences are incredibly memorable, and having ‘fun’ should also be seen as a great experience in itself.

The dynamic nature of outdoor learning lends itself to a wide range of beneficial outcomes. There are five core themes of outdoor learning:


Non-traditional sporting opportunities can help forge a route to life-long engagement in a wide range of outdoor activities. High quality provision encourages young people to engage in the planning of their own outdoor activities – maximising ownership and participation. Reviewing and reflecting on these activities also reinforces learning outcomes, and shows how they can be applied in a wider context in the future.

Self-confidence and achievement

Outdoor Learning offers a wide range of opportunities to challenge young people to develop self-confidence, knowledge and skills. Co-operation can be used to demonstrate how working together helps us, in general, to achieve more, whereas competition can be used to encourage all to do their best. Outdoor learning also offers an alternative pathway for physical achievement, where the only competition is with yourself and the environment. This is often a popular alternative for young people who find head-to-head situations difficult.

Differentiation and progression

Outdoor Learning activities are planned in a way which enables them to be adapted to individual needs. This ensures that all young people are engaged at a level which matches their own development and abilities – enabling young people to take on different roles and show true progression.

Residential experience

A residential outdoor learning experience provides unique opportunities for young people to live away from home, develop independence and undertake a wide range of activities with their peers. They can offer young people the chance to engage in new adventurous activities, within new and challenging environments. This provides unique opportunities for personal development, and is often amongst the most memorable experiences of a young person’s social journey.

Nothing ventured… balanced risks and benefits in the outdoors

It is widely agreed that challenge is an essential part of learning, and learning outdoors is no exception. Challenge has numerous characteristics: a risk of loss or harm, goal setting, participation and physical or emotional activity which pushes beyond the individuals comfort zone. Outdoor learning should always be conducted with these characteristics, and risks, in mind. Operating within a sound framework of safety management is essential, taking a careful assessment of both risk and benefit.

The ultimate responsibility for risk management lies with the leaders and instructors in charge, however, high quality outdoor learning will encourage young people to activity engage in this process throughout the planning process, the activity, and the review itself.

The management of risk is a life skill of high value to young people, both within the work place and other aspects of their lives.


“Education in its broadest sense is not just about curriculum. It is about giving children the chance to extend their life skills. It is about developing confidence. It is about fostering their resilience and sense of responsibility. And – let us not forget – it is about the enjoyment, engagement and excitement about venturing out into the real world, with all its capacity for uncertainty, surprise, stimulation and delight” Tim Gill, 2010, Nothing Ventured…Balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors, English Outdoor Council

Watch our video on LOtC


School Offers

We are open all year for Outdoor Learning opportunities with special day rates and discounted packages during the off peak season.

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