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Discussion Groups

Exchanging knowledge and ideas

Discussion Groups focus on the exchange of knowledge and ideas related to providing Outdoor Learning.



  • Share knowledge and debate relevant issues
  • Influence current and future practice
  • Provide guidance and specialist comment
  • Are led by a Chair who reports back to IOL


  • Therapeutic Outdoors - IOL Professional Discussion Group
  • Teacher Professional Community
  • Higher Education
  • Employer's Group
  • Adventure & Environmental Awareness

The group provides a space for people to come together, discuss and explore our shared interest and experience supporting mental health and wellbeing in the outdoors, working therapeutically outdoors and providing outdoor therapy.

We do this by:

  • Raising awareness and offering opportunities for education in this area
  • Exploring ethical practice that has the best interest of the client / service user at its core
  • Supporting the wellbeing and development of those working in this area
  • Being an inclusive and open community

The group arrange ad-hoc meetings and events to fulfil these aims and have an email discussion forum for members. We welcome outdoor professionals, youth workers, counsellors, therapists, etc. to get involved and help take this field forward in the UK. You can join the Therapeutic Outdoors Professional Discussion Group by contacting the IOL office.


Taking the curriculum outside can improve attainment, increase engagement, and develop a wide range of skills including problem solving, communication and resilience. Join a group discussion of teachers who work in schools and are the lead for outdoor learning or it is part of their work/interest.

A forum for linking the expertise and interests of all lecturers, researchers and fellows involved in higher education within the outdoor sector.

The HE Dissertation Prize is designed to recognise research at undergraduate level that demonstrates a high level of understanding of a subject area, emerging talent in the field of outdoor learning and complements the aims of the institute.

You can add HE Professional Discussion Group Membership to your membership by contacting the IOL office.

Chair : Ian Harris

The aim of the group is to provide a forum for employers in the sector for discussion and action to develop the quality and extent of outdoor learning. This is achieved through:

  • Networking - supporting each other and sharing information on strategic and operational issues
  • Informing - communicating employers’ views to IOL, thereby informing its strategic direction
  • Promoting - working together to identify and develop business opportunities
  • Influencing - creating a landscape in which member organisations can thrive

Meetings There are currently 19 member organisations, which meet three times a year for an overnight meeting, each member hosting the meeting in turn. Organisations are normally represented by the Chief Executive or equivalent post. Meetings start with the evening meal, which is followed by an informal session for exchanging news and raising any current issues. Members find this informal session is a particularly valuable aspect of membership. There is a more formal business session the next day.

Membership Membership is open to all organisational members of IOL. Prospective members should be willing to work in a spirit of co-operation, not competition and should be willing to become fully involved and contribute to the group.

An annual fee of £50 is payable. In addition, members must be prepared to host a meeting, without charge, each time their turn comes round, currently every five years. Please contact the IOL Office to add this to your existing membership.

Group Committee Simon Waring : Chair

The aim of the AEA Professional Discussion Group is: “to promote approaches to outdoor adventure, education and recreation which encourage awareness and understanding of and action for the environment, local and global”

The AEA Group intends to achieve this by: “sharing best practice across the outdoor sector”. The AEA Group has an overarching vision: “to promote approaches through outdoor learning that will contribute to a sustainable future”.

The group will share knowledge and debate relevant issues, influence current and future practice and provide guidance and specialist comment.

To join the group and the discussion is FREE but you need to be an IOL Member, please contact the IOL Office to add this to your existing membership.

Group Committee:
Chair - Geoff Cooper
Vice Chair - Louise Emslie
Treasurer - Graham Watson

Go to the AEA Group Facebook page for pictures, reports and updates.


Professional Discussion Group Events

Professional Discussion Group News

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