The evidence is clear – getting children outdoors is fantastic for their health, wellbeing and learning and can set them on a pathway to happy, healthy and environmentally sustainable lifestyles.
Schools are community gateways to enable these opportunities for all children, yet around 8% of school age children in England get out of their classrooms into green spaces (i.e. exploring a local park or farm, or going on a trip to a National Park).
Defra, Natural England and Historic England funded a 4-year demonstration project Natural Connections, delivered by Plymouth University, to test and evaluate new ways of providing local, independent support to schools and teachers to stimulate both the demand from schools for cross-curricular outdoor learning activities and the supply of new and inspiring learning resources to meet that demand.
Natural Connections, a Countryside Classroom Consortium Member, aimed to increase the number of school children, particularly from disadvantaged communities, able to experience the full range of benefits that come from learning in local natural environments. Find out more about the aims of the project on this NEW INFOGRAPHIC.
Four years later and after working with 125 schools, 40,000 pupils and 2,000 teachers across the South West, the Natural Connections Demonstration Project is now nearly at an end. Our last task is to share all our learning with you!
The project has been evaluated throughout by an experienced research team at Plymouth University and the early findings are showing real benefits of this approach to outdoor learning for teachers, pupils and schools as a whole.
The final project report will be published in May, but in the meantime look out for further information about the project on our blog or be the first to hear news from the project by following @ntrlconnections on Twitter.
The project is keen to share the learning as widely as possible, so please share our infographics via your networks to help raise the profile of outdoor learning in schools.
For further information, contact the Natural Connections Team via [email protected]