The New Curriculum in Wales
Outdoor learning offers a creative, and highly effective way of achieving the Four Purposes of the new curriculum.
The purposes of the curriculum in Wales should be that children develop as:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
Successful Futures. Professor Graham Donaldson. Feb 2015. Pp29).
‘The Areas of Learning and Experience should not be seen as constraining the ways in which schools organise the school day, week or year. They do not lead directly to a timetable based on the Area of Learning and Experience. The purpose is to organise, in a relatively straightforward way, the national expectations about what young people are expected to learn and experience, enabling synergies and connectedness as well as rigour in the disciplinary studies… the education of children and young people should include rich experiences that are valuable in their own right.’
(From Successful Futures. Prof Graham Donaldson. Feb 2015. Pp 108).
Professor Donaldson points out that enriched thematic approaches can be highly effective way of learning all the way through the school years. Outdoor learning provides real-world, multi-sensory experiences which can form the basis of exciting and meaningful opportunities for cross-curricular learning.
Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015
The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act (2015) places a responsibility on public institutions to consider the wellbeing of service users and staff. In educational settings, being outdoors has a marked effect on improving wellbeing according to various studies. Therefore lifting lessons outside, and increasing ‘green time’, is an easy and cost effective way to ensure that everybodies health and wellbeing needs are meet.
The Welsh inspectorate for schools, Estyn, is looking with increasing depth at the ways in which schools are considering pupil wellbeing. The Healthy Schools programme, which helps schools develop towards health and wellbeing goals, is part of the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools partnership. Developing as an Outdoor School can help achieve many of the goals of the Healthy Schools award scheme.
Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC)
Since 2010 Estyn has assessed the extent to which educational institutions are embedding ESDGC across the curriculum. Schemes such as Eco Schools and Sustainable Schools are part of the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools partnership. Both schemes contain many threads/themes that have overlap with developing as an Outdoor School. These include School Grounds, Community Citizenship, Biodiversity and Healthy Living.
Digital Competence Framework
The new Digital Competence Framework (DCF), which is being phased into schools as a cross-curricular responsibility, offers exciting opportunities to take learning outdoors. The outdoors offers a multi-sensory real world experience with countless opportunities for exploration. These can be captured, enhanced, analysed, represented and shared through the creative use of digital technology. The outdoors provides the perfect setting for achieving the aims of the new Digital Competence Framework through the application of digital technology to real world scenarios.
According to Welsh Government guidance for embedding the DCF:
‘Digital Competence is a set of skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable the confident, creative and critical use of technologies and systems…Digital Competence is one of three cross-curricular responsibilities alongside literacy and numeracy; it focuses on developing digital skills that can be transferred to a wide range of subjects and scenarios…’
Digital Competence Framework Guidance, Welsh Government. Pp2.
Pembrokeshire Outdoor Schools has facilitated a county-wide professional learning community to generate resources related to applying the DCF outdoors. These can be found on our resources pages.