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The following can all be found on the CLOtC website: www.lotc.org.uk

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Where does Learning Outside the Classroom take place?

We define learning outside the classroom as: ‘The use of places other than the classroom for teaching and learning.’

This can include:

  • School grounds
  • Local woods, parks or nature reserves
  • Street & townscapes
  • Places of worship & sacred spaces
  • Museums, theatres, galleries & music venues
  • Libraries & archives
  • City farms & community gardens
  • Farms & the countryside
  • Zoos & botanic gardens
  • Heritage & cultural sites
  • Field study & environmental centres
  • Cultural, language & fieldwork visits
  • Remote wild & adventurous places
  • Expeditions abroad

School improvement

Learning outside the classroom is highly motivating. Learning in the school grounds, the locality, visiting sites further afield and residential experiences all stimulate interest, curiosity and passion for ‘doing’. These activities broaden young people’s horizons, enable them to develop new skills and build relationships. They make young people more engaged with learning and therefore more likely to do well.

Teaching and learning

Learning outside the classroom can support areas that are difficult to cover in the classroom.For teachers, learning outside the classroom can support areas that are difficult to cover in the classroom. Teachers value its inspirational quality because it enables young people to understand better — for example, what is the point of learning how to do a survey for geography if you never actually do it?

Learning outside the classroom capitalises on and develops different learning styles, particularly kinaesthetic. Experiencing something — as opposed to hearing it described or reading about it — can also help improve young people’s recall and reflective skills, as they can relive the event in their heads.

Kings College London research into the benefits of learning in the natural environment found that teachers benefited from taking learning outside the classroom, becoming more enthusiastic about teaching and bringing innovative teaching strategies to the classroom

Motivation & behaviour

A positive view of the world and high motivation are the keys to positive behaviour. A young person who is not motivated is unlikely to concentrate and learn effectively. Research evidence shows that learning outside the classroom can have a powerfully motivating effect on young people and a beneficial impact on behaviour.

Places like museums provide new visual and sensory experiences

It suggests that such experiences are especially motivating for young people of all abilities who are not motivated by classroom learning.  Those whose behaviour might deter teachers from taking them outside of the classroom are often the very young people who benefit the most.

Learning experiences outside the classroom have a positive impact on motivation and behaviour because they offer young people a different kind of stimulus from the formality of the classroom, providing them with opportunities to learn that suit them as individuals, and demonstrating the value of real-life situations. For example:

  • Adventure activities offer an outlet for physical energy and opportunities for teamwork. Young people who are otherwise disengaged from formal education often flourish in this kind of challenging situation.
  • Images and objects in places like museums and galleries provide new visual and sensory experiences. For young people who do not like reading and writing or who have learning difficulties and disabilities or special educational needs, this can be a liberation.
  • Music, theatre, dance and other arts activities can have immense emotional and visual impact. Actually seeing a play on stage can engage young people more successfully than reading it on the page.
  • Observing how knowledge and skills are applied in a real-life context can make learning more meaningful, whether it is investigating approaches to land management in a local farm or exploring mechanical processes in a science centre.
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