Outdoor learning: an evaluation of learning in the outdoors for children under five in the Foundation Phase - September 2011


Provision for outdoor learning was good or better in two thirds of the providers we surveyed. Pupils’ wellbeing, behaviour and physical development have all improved as a result of learning outdoors. Schools and non-maintained settings also work well with parents to support their provision. However, outdoor learning isn’t used enough to develop skills in areas such as mathematics and ICT. Teachers assess children’s learning less often and less well outdoors, which means important milestones may be missed.
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Schools and settings should:

  • provide more regular opportunities for children to develop and practise their reading and writing skills outdoors;
  • plan, organise and assess learning and wellbeing as well in the outdoors as they do indoors;
  • ensure that all staff are well trained and confident in using the outdoors to support children’s learning; and
  • consider the impact on outcomes for children when making financial decisions to develop outdoor provision and facilities.

Local authorities should:

  • provide training for leaders and managers to help them to identify best practice in the provision of outdoor learning; and
  • work with schools and settings to improve the data available to evaluate the effectiveness of outdoor learning.

The Welsh Government should:

  • provide guidance on evaluating the cost effectiveness of outdoor provision and facilities.

For a full list of recommendations, please download the report.