Learning outdoors is proven to improve children’s mental health and academic success, but about one in 10 children don’t get the chance to spend time outdoors on a regular basis.
The Field Studies Council is now looking to recruit 30 primary school teachers for a free pilot project aimed at sharing the benefits of learning outside the classroom.
Teachers who sign up will receive four online training sessions, access to a supportive online community and an overnight stay at the FSC Field Study Center in Preston Montford, near Shrewsbury, to put into practice what they have learned.
FSC Chief Executive Mark Castle said: “We know outdoor learning can make a real difference and, as experts in the field, we want to invite primary school teachers to access some of the knowledge we have to excite, engage and build confidence in their own outdoor education.
“The Primary Outdoor Learning program is designed to recruit primary school teachers who want to engage in outdoor learning but who may lack the confidence, skills or opportunities to include it in their teaching .
“This pilot project is initially aimed at teachers in Shropshire and the West Midlands region. If your school is not already a client of the Field Studies Council and you are committed to taking this free program, we would love to hear from you.
“Research shows that activities in nature have a positive impact on students’ mental health, well-being and engagement in school, yet one in 10 children do not regularly spend time outdoors. This program can help teachers make a huge difference to the education and well-being of their students.
Applications for the program close on October 31.
The online webinars will take place between 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on November 2, November 23, January 11 and February 1, followed by an overnight in-person training in Preston Montford from noon on Saturday February 25 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday February 26, which includes free meals and accommodation.
The outdoor primary learning curriculum was developed using research collected through the Nature Friendly Schools project, which was led by The Wildlife Trusts and included the Field Studies Council, YoungMinds, Groundwork UK and Sensory Trust. The project was funded by Defra and the Department for Education and supported by Natural England.
Mark added: “We know that being outdoors has a beneficial effect, and as part of the project, the National Center for Social Research worked with us to find out why. Nature Friendly Schools is the largest research project of its kind ever, and it has the potential to shape how we view education as a nation.
“Using the learning legacy of this project, FSC wants to make a difference for primary school teachers by helping them take their students outside.”
For more information and to register, visit https://www.field-studies-council.org/primary-outdoor-learning-programme/