Ofsted’s views on Learning Outside the Classroom

Learning outside the classroom is about raising young people’s achievement through an organised, powerful approach to learning.

As Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) state, this is not only about what they learn but how and where they learn. It’s about ‘improving young people’s understanding, skills, values, personal and social development and can act as a vehicle to develop young people’s capacity and motivation to learn.’

Real-world learning brings the benefits of formal and informal education together: ‘the most meaningful learning occurs through acquiring knowledge and skills through real-life, practical or hands-on activities.’

The evidence clearly demonstrates the benefits for young people’s learning and personal development outside the classroom:

  • Tackles social mobility, giving children new and exciting experiences that inspire them to reach their true potential
  • Addresses educational inequality,re-motivating children who do not thrive in the traditional classroom environment
  • Supports improved standards back inside the classroom, raising attainment, reducing truancy and improving disciplineBushcraft demonstrationRaft building

Ofsted’s view of LOtC

Ofsted has produced a number of case studies to demonstrate the importance of LOtC, and to help schools to develop LOtC opportunities. One of the key documents ‘Learning outside the classroom: How far should you go?’ used survey results from schools and educational establishments and examined LOtC in practice. Key points that arose from this report were:

  • When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development
  • Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities
  • The success of learning outside the classroom depended very much on the leadership of the schools and colleges.

Also, a more recent study ‘Work on the Wild Side’ demonstrates that leading schools place high value on residential experiences. The report recommends that given the clear benefits of outdoor learning, more needs to be done to ensure that children and young people are provided with the opportunity to leave the classroom, to improve access for every child to an experience outside.

Planning outside the classroom experiences

The learning outcomes from learning outside the classroom activities should drive decisions you make about what you do and where you do it. If these outcomes can be successfully achieved in the grounds of your school or within easy access in the local area, then it is unlikely that travelling to reach a more distant venue will enhance the learning experience. However, there will be other learning outcomes that can best be met, for example, by visiting a residential outdoor facility offering a range of adventurous activities.learning outside the classroom