The learning outcomes from learning outside the classroom activities that you have identified should drive the other decisions you will need to make about what you do and where you do it.
If these outcomes can be successfully achieved in the grounds of your school, centre or project, or within easy access in the local area (the local park, place of worship or museum for example), then it is unlikely that travelling for hours 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 different part of the UK, or the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, or a residential outdoor education centre offering a range of adventurous activities.
Why is planning so important?
Two of the key findings of the 2008 Ofsted Report into learning outside the classroom were that:
- Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities.
- Too many visits considered during the survey had learning objectives which were imprecisely defined and not integrated sufficiently with activities in the classroom.
The Ofsted Report also suggests that although some schools evaluate the impact of learning outside the classroom on improving achievement, for example, many schools do not assess the effectiveness or impact of these experiences on young people.
The Report therefore recommends that schools ensure their curriculum planning includes sufficient well structured opportunities for all learners to engage in learning outside the classroom as a key, integrated element of their experience and that schools evaluate the quality of learning outside the classroom to ensure that it has maximum impact on learners’ achievement, personal development and well-being.
Things to consider:
BEFORE the activity — planning and preparation
Such planning involves weighing up the benefits against any potential risks which may arise and making plans to avoid or reduce them. In schools, the headteacher will often delegate the detailed planning to the organiser/leader of the activity. In other settings there will be other arrangements. Make sure you know what the policies and procedures are and follow them.
If you work in a school and need help, ask more experienced colleagues — they may be part of your LOtC team; and the local authority is also likely to have an Adviser who can offer support and advice. See: Who can help?
- Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve
- Plan any experience carefully as part of an ongoing learning process
- Do you need to use an external provider?
- Involve children and young people in the planning
DURING the activity
- Think about appropriate learning styles
- Decide upon the most appropriate supervision style
AFTER the activity — follow-up and evaluation
- What follow-up and continuation activities can be pursued when back in the classroom, centre or project?
- How do you know whether the experience was successful and met your learning objectives?
- How can the learning and questions raised by the experience or visit be shared with others?
- Celebrate your achievements!
Please download a PDF on Planning LOtC Experiences which provides more detail.