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Teaching Outdoors

Helping teachers deliver outdoor learning in the curriculum

Helping teachers deliver outdoor learning in the curriculum


Taking the curriculum outside can improve attainment, increase engagement, and develop a wide range of skills including problem solving, communication and resilience. Outdoor learning also provides endless opportunities for experiential, contextual and applied education.

At a time when we are increasingly concerned about the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children and young people, and question whether they will leave education with the skills and competencies they will need for the future, outdoor learning brings with it a range of benefits which are now widely evidenced, acknowledged and accepted.

  • Outdoor Learning is at its most potent when it is interwoven within the formal school curriculum.
  • By taking a holistic view of all the environments available – from school yard to mountain tops – we can maximise the learning potential of such spaces and our students.

The Institute has a range of resources to support Teachers in bringing Outdoor Learning into their curriculum. We are strong supporters of the aims of the government’s ‘nature-friendly schools programme’ announced to create school grounds that support learning about the natural world and also keep children happy and healthy.

Horizons Article Archive

Teaching Outdoor Learning

  • Making environmental education meaningful (Horizons 32, 2005)
  • Hidden messages - teaching fear (Horizons 42, 2008)
  • Excluded and challenging but able to learn (Horizons 44, 2008)
  • Do learners learn what teachers teach? (Horizons 53, 2011)
  • Some thoughts on getting youngsters out of the classroom (Horizons 47, 2009)
  • Teaching skills as a core part of a school curriculum (Horizons 58, 2012)
Horizons Special - Taking Learning Outdoors

Taking Learning Outdoors

  • Making the Leap from outdoor instructing to classroom teaching and back again (Horizons 46, 2009)
  • Learning Outside the Classroom... on your doorstep (Horizons 46, 2012)
  • LOtC... sparkling or still? (Horizons 66, 2014)
  • Learning beyond the stockade: How schools can create learning areas in their communities (Horizons 71, 2015)
  • This isn’t PE, it’s not physical enough (Horizons 52, 2010
Horizons Special - Forest School

Forest School

  • Forest School and the Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto - what makes it different from all the other outside the classroom educations? (Horizons 48, 2009)
  • Boys and girl’s reflections of a 6 week Forest School programme (Horizons 61, 2013)
Horizons Special - Residentials


  • Under our own steam: ‘sustainable residential experiences’ what exactly do we mean? (Horizons 52, 2010)
  • Evidence for a ‘pathway’ of learning for school children on residential outdoor education courses (Horizons 67, 2014)
  • Challenge and residential education experiences (Horizons 69, 2015)
  • What can accelerate progress and attainment, improve schools and transform teaching and learning? (Horizons 70, 2015)
  • Extending the value of outdoor education (Horizons 54, 2011)

Resources for Teachers

Search the Horizons Article Archive

The searchable database of past Horizons articles provides access to hundreds of articles on outdoor learning practice that can inspire thinking and offer solutions to your problems or challenges.

Enabling Outdoor Learning for Teachers Document

INSET - Enabling Outdoor Learning CPD for Teachers

Designed specifically with schools in mind, IOL provides and accredits CPD events to give teachers the confidence, skills and ideas to take teaching out into school yard and local area.  Learn More...

National Outdoor Learning Award

This FREE downloadable resource from IOL assists learners to develop high levels of motivation, esteem, skill, knowledge and desire to learn. NOLA can be used to recognise and capture the personal development outcomes of participants during an outdoor learning experience.

Outdoor Education Advisors Panel National Guidance

A key resource from OEAP to support planning and delivery that is inclusive of the full range of provision for young people, including by schools, youth services, other formal and informal settings, and provision in the public, private, voluntary and charitable sectors. It covers provision across England and Wales. If you are based in Scotland, please follow this link to the website of the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE)

Environmental Learning Handbook

This resource from the Outdoor Education Advisors Panel contains 25 laminated cards that support learning, encourage working together, promote positive attitudes to the natural environment and an understanding of a young person’s place within it.

High Quality Outdoor Learning

This booklet from the English Outdoor Council brings together 10 key outcomes from progressive high quality outdoor learning. An excellent resource if you need to identify and describe the benefits of outdoor learning for young people.

IOL 7 Steps to CPD

Use this valuable FREE resource from IOL to reflect on your professional skills, knowledge and understanding when leading outdoor learning sessions, and to plan and record your CPD activity.

IOL Accredited Courses

Are you delivering an alternative curriculum that includes preparing young people to assist and instruct others in outdoor activities? IOL can accredit your course and give industry credibility to your school’s approach.

Schools Enrichment Booklet

A checklist of activities for children from Reception to Year 6. Teachers and/or Parents can use this checklist to plan activities or encourage a child to plan activities for themselves.

Out to Play

A practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences in early learning and childcare from the Scottish Government. It is a step-by-step guide providing practical advice on how to access outdoors spaces to create safe, nurturing and inspiring outdoor learning experiences.

Outdoor Learning Pack

This Outdoor Learning Pack has been developed by Woodland Trust Scotland with Forestry Commission Scotland support, this pack helps primary teachers take the curriculum outside, whether in school grounds, a local park or nearby patch of woodland. It supports all stages from planning, activities, evaluation and review.

Risk and Benefit in Outdoor Learning

Nothing Ventured... Balancing risks and benefits in the outdoors aims to encourage readers to take a reasonable and proportionate approach to safety in outdoor and adventurous settings, and to reassure them that managing risks should not be a disincentive to organising activities.

Eco-Schools - Northern Ireland

Going outside does not always have to be about nature studies or physical education but can complement any lesson; literacy, numeracy, STEM topics and even ITC. It can also encourage better problem solving, critical thinking, inquiry skills and self-management in pupils.

Books and internet resources to support school-based outdoor learning

Maximising Learning works with teachers, both internationally and in the United Kingdom, to create socially competent, emotionally intelligent, entrepreneurial young people. We deliver outdoor learning training for teaching staff in all settings that builds confidence, develops knowledge and skill, and fosters a whole school approach to outdoor learning.
As well as bespoke training and consultancy, Maximising Learning also deliver the Ofqual regulated and IOL Accredited Course Level 3 Award in Learning Beyond the Classroom.

How to set up a Forest School – from the roots up!

FREE Booklet
The FSA are delighted to release the first in a series of new, free to download, booklets that support Forest School practitioners and participants in taking their first steps on the Forest School journey. ‘How to set up a Forest School from the roots-up!‘ is a concise resource designed to help you reflect on and consider all aspects of creating a Forest School, from understanding the principles to working through your business case. Although aimed at helping people develop new Forest School settings the booklet may also help existing Forest Schools to identify issues before they become problems.

A guide to help inspire schools to shift their classroom lessons to the outdoors:

With careful planning and firmly set rules in place, taking your lessons outside gives your pupils a fully sensory experience that benefits their wellbeing and cognitive development in lots of different ways. We’ve put together some ideas for getting outdoors – and some suggestions if you don’t have available space for outdoor learning too.

Why Kids Need to Play in Nature: A Guide

For most of us, being cooped up in our homes since lockdowns began, we’ve all been missing the outdoors, children especially. Being outdoors is super important for kids and we’d like to help parents and teachers understand this fact, and leverage it in school, so we came up with this guide: 50 ways forest and outdoor learning experiences benefit child development ...

Join the discussions, get advice from experts

IOL Bushcraft Professional Practice Group

IOL Bushcraft Professional Practice Group

Whether you use a woodland and forest environment with early years, children or young people the IOL Bushcraft Professional Practice Group can support you with guidance, expertise, skills development and access to Bushcraft Awards for your pupils.

IOL Field Studies Professional Practice Group

IOL Field Studies Professional Practice Group

The specialist voice of those delivering study led programmes in Field Studies or Environmental Education. Their focus is on the academic or practical study of the natural world and the interaction between people and the natural world, most commonly within the subjects of Geography, Geology, Biology and Environmental Science.

IOL Adventure and Environmental Awareness Professional Discussion Group

IOL Adventure and Environmental Awareness Professional Discussion Group

Benefit from shared knowledge and debate to promote approaches through outdoor learning that will contribute to a sustainable future. Be part of the AEA group and encourage awareness and understanding of and action for the environment, local and global.

IOL Adventure for All Professional Practice Group

IOL Adventure for All Professional Practice Group

The specialist group who promote participation in adventurous activities and outdoor learning by people with disabilities and other special educational needs, as well as to share ideas and agree best practice in the safe delivery of activities.

IOL Home Nation and Regional Groups

IOL Home Nation and Regional Groups

As a general or practitioner member of IOL you are automatically a member of a network of outdoor learning professionals in your area. Connect and share good practice, influence IOL policy and lobbying, and take part in subsidised IOL events.



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