Ministers’ of state come and go and those with a portfolio
for education and training are no different.
There are obviously many challenges associated with frequent change of
leadership in this way. A significant
one for those of us seeking a change to the value placed on outdoor learning is
the emphasis and terminology associated with some of the key outcomes of high
quality outdoor learning.
The increasing focus on ‘character education’ driven by the
previous administration appears to be gently fading....or is it? My experience at a recent forum in
Westminster was that though terminology and emphasis may have shifted the
desired outcomes remain the same. It is
those desired outcomes of higher levels of educational engagement and
attainment, increased employability, commitment to a role in wider society and
responsibility for the environment we live in, that also remain key outcomes
from well designed and facilitated outdoor learning activity.
So should we care what the latest jargon being used by our
politicians is? For any of you who have
studied the psychology of influencing the answer may be obvious. I suggest that if you wish someone to change
their stance, in this case the value placed on outdoor learning, then you are
more likely to succeed if you use terminology that has currency and meaning for
those you are wishing to influence. I
suggest that the current terminology with most influence is ‘social mobility’.
Though there is definitely still work to be done on defining
routes to social mobility, there is clearly commitment from the Cabinet
Office’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) to identify how to best achieve this. If you are seeking to ensure your outdoor
learning practice is most understandable and impactful with schools, colleges
and youth groups, you can do worse than look at BIT’s work. This team has some strategic influence and is
developing some good understanding that is available to all. Their insight into developing perseverance,
using stretch goals, 100% focus and inspirational role models, is a great
The Institute continues to ensure that good practice in
outdoor learning is developed through research, promotion and teaching. 2017 will see the development of regional
research hubs to achieve this...see my previous blog. I expect to see this work to take a longer
term view of good outdoor learning practice, or at least longer term than the average
length of tenure of a minister of state!