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IOL Blog

IOL Blog - Comment from the Institute

 

1

Dec

2016

Developing local research hubs

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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19

Sep

2016

It’s all about your team...

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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22

Aug

2016

Obesity and the outdoors

The recently published Westminster government's plan to tackle childhood obesity contains some encouraging elements that encourage regular exercise. The response of the press though has largely been around the responsibilities of the food and drinks industry and the retailers. Surely the debate should be about why people don't adopt healthy lifestyles and not how much tax should be levied on sugary drinks. It's worth reading what is a fairly short paper on the plan to tackle childhood obesity.

The Institute will be responding to the associated consultation. If you have strong views you want represented let me know. If you want to explore this further catch me at the IOL National Conference in October.

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18

Aug

2016

Creating a sustainable culture of outdoor learning in schools

The launch of the reported findings of the largest recent study of outdoor learning in schools, 'Natural Connections', is a helpful contribution to our understanding of the impact of outdoor learning in schools and the key factors that influence positive outcomes.  Less helpful from my perspective is the introduction of yet another acronym to the teacher's lexicon!  I fear that we may add a good deal of confusion with the introduction of the term 'Learning in the Natural Environment' or LINE, as a way of sub-dividing outdoor learning.

Acronyms to one side, the Natural Connections report is worth a read (full report). If you prefer to listen to others describe some key insights Natural England have produced a useful 10 minute film

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12

Jul

2016

Creating higher valued outdoor learning: IOL National Conference 2016

The IOL vision is ‘Outdoor learning as a highly valued form of development, education and employment in UK society’.  The desire to help others derive more value from engaging with the many different forms of outdoor learning lies at the heart of my commitment to IOL.  I’m clear we all need to develop our thinking and practices if we are to achieve this.

The Institute’s National Conference  is a key point in the outdoor learning calendar when we have the opportunity to join up our thinking.  It is a time to be challenged by others, to learn from their experience and to encourage practices that have greater impact and are more valuable for those we work with.  I spent some time over the past year considering what we might need to make the 2016 annual Conference sufficiently challenging, learning opportunity filled and encouraging to IOL’s diverse member population.  The result is an event that draws on innovative practice, academic research and lessons from outside the UK.

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