30 ONLINE 25 A, ESE in formal education
MeetingID: 845 7773 4324 Code: 7K6YQ9
Given there is not a universally agreed definition of ‘indoor education’, we might not be surprised that theorists and commentators have also considered the following terms to be contested: ‘outdoor education’ (OE), ‘outdoor learning, (OL), ‘out-of-school learning’ (OSL), and Learning / Education outside the Classroom LoTC, EoTC) (see Dyment and Potter, 2015, Hill et al., 2021). Beyond and sometimes including physical education and sport, many forms of education provided outdoors are seen as relevant: for example, geography fieldwork, mathematics in the school grounds, nature-based provisions, residential camps, outdoor crafts, urban place-based education, zoological gardens, national parks, and so on. In line with other studies (for example: in Canada, see Asfeldt et al., 2020; in Hungary, Fuz, 2018; in England, Prince, 2019; in New Zealand, Hill et al., 2020), in response to this complexity, and taking account of local differences in culture, goals emphases, terminology, policy, and structural features of provision, we need empirical research at national and international levels about how OE/OL provision is changing over time, and how such provision links with environmental and sustainability education (ESE). Environmental education / and education for sustainability have in the past featured strongly alongside play (early years), science, health, personal and social education, and geography when teachers organize events in school grounds, in local areas and beyond (Mannion et al., 2015).
In Scottish educational settings, access to outdoor learning experiences is defined as an entitlement for all pupils. Through the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and other policy drivers such as Learning for Sustainability, there is the requirement that all teachers are able to demonstrate a commitment to taking learning outdoors (Christie et al., 2019). Distinctively, policies encouraging ‘outdoor learning’ include provisions delivered in school grounds, in local areas, in residential settings by teachers themselves within subject areas and through interdisciplinary approaches and in partnership with out-of-school providers. This echoes research in Sweden that suggests that there is “significant evidence” of the value of existing outdoor learning-based approaches and also of increasing outdoor provision for schools (Faskunger et al., 2018).
Building on previous surveys of outdoor learning provision in Scotland (2006 and 2014), our current 2022 survey is set to find out to what extent, in what ways OL/OE and ESE provisions are now changing in schools and pre-schools during the global Coronavirus pandemic. All learning has changed as the pandemic and various stages of government response has evolved. From the home-schooling challenges illuminating the deep inequalities in access to educational resources to the ‘recovery’ curriculum on returning to classroom settings, the way that educational provision frames the experiences of young people has been brought into sharp focus. Quay et al. (2020) question the future of outdoor and environmental education in Covid-times and suggests that there is need to embrace the possibilities that increased outdoor learning may bring in response to the epidemiologic preference for open, well-ventilated spaces in reducing viral infection. This raises questions of the nature, extent and quality of any actual or perceived increase in outdoor learning provision in recent years with respect to ESE. More widely, we can employ empirical surveys to support existing or create better theorisations of what comprises ‘Outdoor ESE’ where the role of place is seen as offering a distinctive affordance (see Mannion et al., 2013, Lynch and Mannion, 2021, Ruck, 2022) for teaching about issues such as biodiversity loss or climate change.
This research demonstrates a unique cross-sectional analysis of evidence collected in May and June periods in three years, 2006, 2014 and 2022, enabling us to create an unprecedented comprehensive account of a changing picture over a 16-year period. Data were collected, in part by teachers themselves over a two-month period in each of three surveys. The dataset comprises thousands of reports on individual outdoor sessions or lessons with evidence for each event on duration, location, cost, focus and other aspects. This important dataset provides a rich and reliable account of what comprises ‘outdoor learning’ when delivered as part of the curriculum by schools and early years settings in Scotland. The analysis of the duration, location, focus of the events to discern when and how ESE was addressed. The third survey of its kind in May and June of 2022 will also build on previous surveys to reflect on the impact of the covid-19 pandemic for outdoor learning provision. Furthermore, in 2022, with many calling for outdoor provision to increase as a pandemic response, respondents will comment on any relevant pre- and in-service training received, their sense of the utility of that professional development, and what needs are identifiable for enhanced future provision.
Earlier surveys (2006, 2014) suggested that outdoor provisions in the school/pre-school grounds, in local areas and further afield have increased over time and are now a key part of the formally delivered curriculum in Scotland, however, provision is unevenly distributed and could easily double in duration. Findings from the current survey will enable us to identify if this upward trajectory has continued and how it compares with provision internationally alongside the previous studies. As outdoor educational provision has been, and continues to be encouraged in many countries during the Coronavirus pandemic, we might expect that this has had a positive impact on the volume of lessons provided outdoors. While school and early years provision begins to emerge from the worst impacts of the pandemic; this research will help signpost whether a new direction is apprehensible via post-Covid outdoor and ESE pedagogies and how teachers’ professional learning might assist in their delivery.
Asfeldt, M., Purc-Stephenson, R., Rawleigh, M. & Thackeray, S. (2020) Outdoor education in Canada: a qualitative investigation. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2020.1784767 Christie, B., Higgins, P., King, B., Collacott, M., Kirk, K. and Smith, H., (2019). From rhetoric to reality: Examining the policy vision and the professional process of enacting Learning for Sustainability in Scottish schools. Scottish Educational Review, 51(1), pp.44-56. Dyment, J. E., & Potter, T. G. (2015). Is outdoor education a discipline? Provocations and possibilities. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 15(3), 193–208. Faskunger J, Szczepanski A, Åkerblom P. (2018). Teaching with the sky as a ceiling: a review of research about the significance of outdoor teaching for children’s learning in compulsory school [Internet]. Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press. Füz, N. (2018). Out-of-school learning in Hungarian primary education: Practice and barriers. Journal of Experiential Education. doi:10.1177/1053825918758342 Hill, A., North, C., Cosgriff, M., Irwin, D., Boyes, M., & Watson, S. (2020). Education outside the classroom in Aotearoa New Zealand - A comprehensive national study: Final Report (Report). Christchurch, New Zealand: Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd. Power, S. C., Taylor, C., Rees, G., & Jones, K. (2009). Out of school learning: Variations in provision and participation in secondary schools. Research Papers in Education, 24(4), 439–460 Prince, H. E. (2019). Changes in outdoor learning in primary schools in England, 1995 and 2017: lessons for good practice, Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 19:4, 329-342 Lynch, J. & Mannion, G. (2021). Place-responsive Pedagogies in the Anthropocene: Attuning with the more-than-human, Environmental Education Research, 27(6), 864-878. DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2020.1867710 Mannion, G., Fenwick, A., Lynch, J. (2013). Place-responsive pedagogy: learning from teachers’ experiences of excursions in nature. Environmental Education Research, Vol. 19, No. 6, pp 792-809. Quay, J., Gray, T., Thomas, G. et al. (2020). What future/s for outdoor and environmental education in a world that has contended with COVID-19? Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 23, 93–117. Ruck, A. & Mannion, G. (2021) Stewardship and beyond? Young people’s lived experience of conservation activities in school grounds, Environmental Education Research, 27:10, 1502-1516, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2021.1964439 Zink, R., & Boyes, M. (2006). The nature and scope of outdoor education in New Zealand schools. The Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, 10(1), 11–21.
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