Over the years much has been made of the value of outdoor learning. Much evidence has been anecdotal, and there has been some research into the effects of outdoor learning. Steve Ranger, Director of TrekCo, has an M.A. in Education specialising in the Value of Outdoor Education in Secondary Schools. Summarised below are papers and pieces of information which may help when considering the benefits of Outdoor Education.These are not presented as a coherent body of work; rather a collection of links and quotes.

Articles and References about the benefits of Outdoor Education

  • ‘School trips and outdoor learning activities – Tackling the Safety Myths’ – an HSE paper 
  • Times Educational Supplement 16.9.2016 – ‘Mental health? Challenge accepted’ – an article by a Head and Deputy Head of the Royal Free Hospital School in London – see https://www.tes.com/news/tes-magazine/tes-magazine/mental-health-challenge-accepted This article regards school outdoor residentials as a highly valuable tool, and urges teachers to include students with mental health issues in school trips. You’ll need a TES subscription to read the full article.
  • Research shows that children learn best through real life experiences. Taking learning beyond the classroom walls makes learning more memorable and appeals to different learning styles. 99% of teachers say that students are more animated and engaged when learning outside the classroom (Opinion matters survey on behalf of TUI Education Division, 2010)
  • Outdoor Education supports improved standards back INSIDE the classroom, raising attainment, reducing truancy and improving discipline (The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, 2014)
  • Outdoor Education is known to contribute significantly to raising standards & improving pupils’ personal, social & emotional development. It also contributes to the quality and depth of learning (OFSTED, Learning Outside the Classroom, How far should you go, 2008)
  • Outdoor Education enables children to interact in new ways with their peers and adults, improving relationships between teachers and pupils, particularly with those students who are hard to reach in the classroom environment
  • Outdoor Education is effective in delivering learning outcomes across all areas of the curriculum including literacy, numeracy, science, history, geography and IT and has the most impact when opportunities to learn outside the classroom are frequent, continuous and progressive
  • OFSTED says that LOtC is crucial to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum (response to Select Committee review, October 2010)
  • Review of meta analysis of 97 studies on OE finds positive results : Hattie, J. A., Marsh, H. W., Neill, J. T. & Richards, G. E. (1997). Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-class experiences that have a lasting effectReview of Educational Research67, 43-87.
  • Outdoor Education on Wikipedia:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outdoor_education
  • House of Commons Education and Skills Committee Education Outside the Classroom Second Report of Session 2004–05:    http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmeduski/120/120.pdf This report summarises the findings of the committee and in particular makes some quotes directly relevant to our industry; even in the introductory text the assessment of the current situation is damning: ‘During this inquiry, the Committee has become convinced of the value of education outside the classroom in its broadest sense. Outdoor learning supports academic achievement, for example through fieldwork projects, as well as the development of ‘soft’ skills and social skills, particularly in hard to reach children. It can take place on school trips, on visits in the local community or in the school grounds. Yet outdoor education is in decline. Provision by schools is extremely patchy. Although some schools offer an active and well-planned programme of outdoor education, which contributes significantly to teaching and learning, many are deterred by the false perception that a high degree of risk attaches to outdoor education as well as by cumbersome bureaucracy and issues of funding, time and resources. Neither the DfES or local authorities have done enough to publicise the benefits of education outside the classroom or to provide strategic leadership or direction in this area. Risk is often cited as the main factor deterring schools from organising school trips. We have found no evidence to support the perception that school trips are inherently risky. Visits organised in accordance with health and safety guidance should not lead to avoidable accidents or unfounded legal claims against teachers. The DfES needs to work with teacher unions and schools to ensure that teachers do not feel vulnerable to vexatious litigation and that they are aware of the law as it now stands. We also strongly recommend that the NASUWT reviews its advice to members not to participate in school trips. In contrast, the bureaucracy now associated with school trips is a major problem. Some schools and local authorities are demanding excessively lengthy risk assessments and we have found evidence of needless duplication in the system. The Government claims to be actively reducing public sector bureaucracy in general and specifically the burden on schools. We are therefore extremely surprised that it can allow the current situation to persist.’ The paper continues in the same vein and makes an interesting read – please have a look via the link above.


  • Dissertation: ‘Exploring the Value of Outdoor Education’ by Steve Ranger. This study attempts to assess the uses and potentials of Outdoor Education in comprehensive schools. A case study school is used to illustrate the range of issues identifiable as connected with an Outdoor Education programme in such a setting. The literature is examined as a means of selecting lines of enquiry and a combined qualitative methodology is used to investigate the chosen issues as identified from both the literature and initial interviews with central figures. The data is critically analysed to illustrate the views and perceptions of the programme from teachers, pupils and parents at the school. These issues are connected with those arising from the literature so as to gain a broad picture of the effects of the programme on pupils and the whole school. The conclusions drawn from these findings give a positive picture of the results of the programme and identify key areas for its further development. It is shown that he programme has strong support and has integrated well into the school, but that the overall situation of the subject at the time of writing is that of an emerging area with need for greater dissemination of ideas. The subject is seen as needing a more cohesive application if its concepts are to be fully understood by schools.