Colin Baty highlights outdoor learning in Telegraph feature

19/11/2020
Academic & Curriculum, Bedales Pre-Prep, Dunannie, Bedales Prep, Dunhurst

In an article for The Telegraph, Colin Baty (Head of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst) lends his support to a call for better use of outdoor learning in schools, and explains how the pandemic has underlined its educational value.

The re-opening of schools this term has seen a renewed appeal for government to support the use of outdoor learning in response to the pandemic. In a letter to the Chair of the Education Select Committee, the group Our Bright Future, which includes representatives from The Wildlife Trusts, The National Youth Agency, the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Friends of the Earth, has identified recovery from the pandemic as an opportunity to reassess “how we socialise, work and learn”. Research shows that time spent learning outdoors and interacting with the natural world can raise children’s educational attainment, resilience, and wellbeing. The group says this should be the subject of a government inquiry, with a view to making outdoor learning part of the regular curriculum. 

Colin Baty says: “I add my voice to this cause. Dunhurst teaches an educationally demanding curriculum in the most interesting and imaginative ways we can conceive. This means getting out into the school grounds for Outdoor Work which is a core weekly curriculum subject all year round, and is designed to be both greatly enjoyed by the boys and girls and also a learning experience. We believe a good and interesting education should be an absorbing one, and that it is perfectly possible to combine all manner of personal and educational benefits when pupils are suitably distracted by having fun. This is particularly important when times are fraught, and of course when the virus remains a risk to us all we are safer outdoors than in.”

Outdoor learning has a long and important history in education. As long ago as 1904, government regulations for elementary schools stressed the value of practical work as part of a wider emphasis on educating the ‘total being’ rather than simply imparting knowledge.

A quarter of a century later, the 1931 Hadow Report proposed that the primary school curriculum be thought of in terms of ‘activity and experience’.

The full article can be seen here (subscription may be required).

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