A powerful case has been presented for learning outside the classroom to be frequent, continuous and progressive. Activities should not, and need not, be left to the summer months or be cancelled just because of inclement weather or an Ofsted inspection!
However, deciding when to go outside the classroom should be informed by what you want learners to achieve.
Usually, going out into the school grounds or local environment can be done any day of the week and without little more planning than for classroom activities. A balance between indoor and outdoor activities can be achieved by planning a whole curriculum using the outdoor environment and indoor opportunities offered by local providers such as museums, libraries, theatres, art galleries and music venues.
Some activities, especially in the natural environment, are influenced by seasonal variations: for example examining life cycles in pond, meadow and woodland habitats, and winter activities such as skiing or ice climbing. Others, such as farm visits, are influenced by the cycles of crop and animal husbandry. Obviously, the magic of a walk in the dark of night can only be done outside the normal working day and probably during a residential stay.
Some questions to help you decide when LOtC should take place
- Where are the best places for learning outside the classroom activities to deliver your intended learning outcomes?
- Have you considered the best combination of learning outcomes that can easily be delivered?
- Are there places suitable for how you wish to organise learning? for example, look-see, hands-on, exploration, adventure, etc?
- Are the locations subject to seasonal variation?
- What is the best time of year or day to arrange learning outside the classroom?
- Are there places to go locally which will lessen the need to travel further afield?
- Have you considered the need for using external support/providers?
- Do the places you are planning to visit provide sufficient challenge or inspiration?