It is likely that learning outside the classroom already features strongly in many schools’ provisions. However you may not be getting the most out of it for your young people if this provision has not been brought together and reviewed as part of your development planning.
Developing an LOtC Policy
An overall policy allows you to say what you value about learning outside the classroom and its potential benefit for young people. At the same time, it allows you to formalise and quality-assure your procedures in this area and, without being bureaucratic, to simplify and state basic requirements. It can also simplify and clarify expectations.
If you work in an early years setting, you may be wanting to develop an Early Years play and outdoor policy.
As well as setting out the rationale, aims, strategies and review arrangements, the policy should include people’s responsibilities and involvement .
A member of the senior management team should take the lead on learning outside the classroom. Their role may include leading whole curriculum planning, planning within the school curriculum; and across subjects or areas of learning; continuing professional development for teachers (or practitioners) and other key members of staff; and ensuring effective administrative support.
You will also want to clarify your charging policy; and say how you will make it possible for all young people to experience learning outside the classroom — regular, varied and progressive (see: inclusion). You may also want to familiarise yourself with, or refresh your understanding of the law on Health and Safety.
This section has most relevance to schools, particularly where responsibilities and procedures are discussed in detail, but the principles of embedding learning outside the classroom through planned policies and practice apply to all settings — from those for the very young to those for older teenagers.
Learning outside the classroom is not an addition to the curriculum but should become integral to it and a regular part of teaching and learning. To make sure that happens, it is important to build learning outside the classroom into the development of schemes of work and into curriculum planning at every stage. This section and the accompanying PDF documents outline that process. It is for anyone engaged in promoting learning outside the classroom within schools, youth projects or early years settings. In particular, it needs to be read by curriculum planners.
What might a Learning Outside the Classroom curriculum look like?
As an essential part of learning, every learner needs frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom experiences. Changes to the curriculum are giving schools greater flexibility to tailor learning to their learners’ needs. The school curriculum is now seen as the entire planned learning experience. It includes classroom lessons, but also the events, routines, visits and activities that take place out of the classroom and beyond the school. This approach also applies to those making provision for the Early Years Foundation Stage, the extended day, for the 14-19s and provision for youth work.
This example of a learning outside the classroom curriculum below might help you start thinking about planning.
Issues of frequency, continuity and progression are best approached from a whole school/key stage or whole programme approach to curriculum planning. The following steps may help in assessing the situation, planning your curriculum and evaluating achievements. They are built around three curriculum questions:
1. What do you want to achieve?
2. How will you organise learning?
3. How will you know when you are achieving your aims?
To shape your thinking about planning, it may help to reflect on the ‘Beehive’ concept curriculum as you consider how to build on your current provision for learning outside the classroom. The suggestions are intended only as prompts to show how you could begin planning frequency, continuity and progression. The ‘Beehive’ concept can be used as a starting point for staff meetings when planning learning outside the classroom.
Download the PDF planning within the school curriculum to find out more.
There are three further PDFs to download which may help with different aspects of this planning: