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Developing local research hubs

Andy Robinson    A good deal of time and energy over the last few years has gone into seeking to influence national government and policymakers with a view to expanding outdoor learning's impact on U.K. society.  This has seen some tremendous progress in some areas, probably most notably in Scotland with the adoption of the curriculum for excellence and the role Outdoor Learning plays in this.

There continues to be a significant amount of effort directed towards drawing on research to influence policy and certainly much research funding relating to the outdoors has been spent in support of this.  More recently though I believe there is an increasing recognition of the need to strengthen the 'third leg of the research, policy & practice stool'.  A recognition that there is a very real need to identify and develop the use of good practice in a growing use of outdoor learning.  The Natural Connections project has been probably the most significant indicator of this changing emphasis.

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It’s all about your team...

Andy Robinson    There is no doubt that what is often called the ‘war for talent’ is becoming harder in the outdoor learning sector. With changing business models, a general push towards healthy lifestyles, expanding initiatives such as the National Citizen Service and a number of other factors I suggest that ensuring you are able to deliver the right outdoor learning services at the right time is becoming more challenging. It is certainly worth considering the way you engage with potential new members of your team.

Whilst the Institute continues to provide the hugely popular jobs pages on its website, this is of course only a part of the story. What does the journey look like for someone considering joining you and your organisation? How well informed are they about the content of the roles you want to fill? Are they aware of where they are in the recruitment process, at any given time? Do they get supportive constructive feedback if they are unsuccessful? How are they made to feel over the first few days and weeks as a new joiner? ....and how do they engage with you in the first place?

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Self defeating education and learning systems?

Andy Robinson    I recently spent a very stimulating morning at a gathering in Westminster organised by the Education Select Committee as part of that committee's review of the purpose and quality of education in England. I have to confess I was anticipating a fairly dry revisit of many of the old chestnuts about what good education looks like.... I was pleasantly surprised and motivated by the actual debate.

The Institute had responded to an earlier consultation by the committee informing them of the findings of the Blagrave Trust funded work looking at the evidence base for outdoor learning. Others from the outdoor learning community had also submitted comments and this recent morning's conference contained a session on outdoor learning, a sign of a growing recognition of the contribution good outdoor learning practice can make to education. I expect to see further work by the education committee examining the approach to use of outdoor learning in English schools.
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