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About Us

About the Institute for Outdoor Learning

The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) is the professional body for organisations and individuals who use the outdoors to make a difference for others.


Our Vision

  • Outdoor learning is a highly valued form of development, education and employment in UK society

Our Mission

  • To increase participation in outdoor learning in the UK
  • To recognise and improve the quality of outdoor learning provision

Governance and Structure

The Institute is a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee governed by a voluntary Board of Trustees elected by the membership. Potential Trustees are recruited for both their personal skills in the management of organisations (or specific aspects of it) and their connections with the diverse sectors of our field so as to ensure the interests of our membership are understood. The “Board” is also advised by a “steering group” made up of the chairs of both the Professional Practice Groups within IOL and the established Home Nation / Regional committees. This structure enables the needs of the membership to be understood and provides a direct line to the Board for individual members.

The Trustees fulfil the organisation governance and inform the strategic direction for IOL, as well as providing advice and supervision for the Chief Executive Officer and team.

History And Role

The Institute was formed in 2001 following the convergence of a number of representative bodies that had emerged in the UK to champion and lobby for aspects of outdoor learning. Since the early 1970’s there has been an ever-growing need for those involved in outdoor pursuits, field studies and outdoor adventurous activities to share safe and effective practice, develop a growing workforce and represent the educational and developmental potential of the sector. The creation of IOL built on the early work of the National Association for Outdoor Education (1970) and the Association for Outdoor Learning (1998) and added a larger, independent voice for the sector.



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