Healthy Environment

Every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.

The first-hand experiences of learning outside the classroom can help to make subjects more vivid and interesting for pupils and enhance their understanding. It can also contribute significantly to pupils’ personal, social and emotional development.


Manifesto for learning outside the classroom

Learning outside the classroom is defined as: “the use of places other than the classroom for teaching and learning.” The rationale is that such learning often makes “the most memorable learning experiences” and “help us to make sense of the world around us by making links between feelings and learning. They stay with us into adulthood and affect our behaviour, lifestyle and work. They influence our values and the decisions we make. They allow us to transfer learning experienced outside to the classroom and vice versa.”

   Autism and the Senses

Many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information. Any of the senses may be over or undersensitive, or both, at different times. These sensory differences can affect behaviour, and can have a profound effect on a person’s life.

There are so many really useful resources including how to help, sensory profiles and ideas for minimising triggers.

Three points to remember are:

Be aware. Look at the environment to see if it is creating difficulties. Can you change anything?

Be creative. Think of some positive sensory experiences.

Be prepared. Tell the person about possible sensory stimuli they may experience in different environments.

   Connection to Nature Index (CNI)

“Empirical research has demonstrated that nature experiences have a positive influence on children, helping them to develop positive values about nature and increasing psychological well-being.

Contact with nature is important for children, is inseparably linked to their wellbeing and also promotes healthy personal development. Nature allows for unstructured play, generating a sense of freedom, independence and inner strength which children can draw upon when experiencing future incidents of stress. Children with ADHD may benefit from more time in contact with nature.

In addition children’s relationship with nature is a fundamental part of their development, allowing opportunities for self-discovery and natural environmental experience.”

BRAGG et al, 2013
   Do pupils in your school understand the importance of sleep?

Sleep problems can be a very serious issue and lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, depression, anxiety and impaired learning.

Many pupils have poor sleep patterns and complain about having little or no energy. How is the importance of sleep promoted in your school? Do children and young people know what can affect sleep? Do they need extra help/support if sleeping is becoming a real problem for them?

Visit the Sleep Council website for more information.

   Forest Schools

The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through an ongoing programme of positive experiences and participation in engaging and motivating achievable tasks and activities in a woodland environment. Forest Schools have demonstrated success with children, young people and adults. The developmental programmes run throughout the year with groups going to the woodland in almost all weathers. Children and young people work with tools, play, learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social, grow in confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

The long-term, child-centred nature of Forest School programmes provide opportunities to promote and develop emotional literacy, resilience, self-awareness and regulation and provide time and space to practise different strategies, develop social skills and to be reflective.

   Healthy Eating

How can a whole school approach to food and health contribute to emotional well-being and mental health?

Healthy eating and a balanced diet play a huge role in our Emotional Well-being and Mental Health. Our food/drink choices can affect our mood; weight; concentration; energy levels; sleep etc. Although our pupils may not cook their own meals at home they are often independent in their choices of drinks, snacks and lunchtime food, particularly from the school canteen. Increasing children’s and young people’s knowledge (food and drink and its benefits, a balanced diet and portion sizes) and skills (to read labels, make healthier choices and cook safely) can all help to change behaviour now and influence the next generation of independent young adults and future parents/carers.

For resources about the benefits of healthy eating in schools, please visit the following sites:

  • NHS Healthy Eating Teens - NHS healthy eating information specifically for teenagers with links to more general health information.
  • Change4Life - Change4life information for families about healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Teen Weight Wise - British Dietetic Association.
  • Food a Fact of Life - Loads of information and activities for young people and those working with them about food and healthy eating.
  • First Steps Derbyshire - Local help, advice and support for sufferers of eating disorders.
  • B-Eat - National advice and information on eating disorders, for those seeking support and professionals supporting young people.

   Making learning more memorable

We often hear that there is no time to do outdoor learning because of the pressures of maths, literacy and other curriculum learning, but we should be taking maths, literacy, science, geography, etc. outside.

"Research shows that learning outside the classroom is more memorable and more engaging; it can have a much greater impact on students than sitting in the classroom".

Victoria Wilcher, communications and marketing manager for the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom
   Physical Education

What is the contribution of physical education, physical activity and sport to emotional wellbeing and mental health?

Physical activity and involvement in sport and outdoor education can play a big part in supporting Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health. Enabling young people to integrate physical activity into daily routines can be the best way to increase the amount and the longevity of being active. Making it as easy as possible by reducing the barriers to being and keeping physically active will help young people maintain such a behaviour change.

You can integrate physical activity into group or individual sessions through: warm up and wake up activities; active learning; taster sessions of different exercises or sports; after-school clubs; walk and talk meetings and promotion of and visits to local clubs and leisure services.

Physical activity

Access further physical education resources here:

  • Active Derbyshire - Not specifically designed for young people but lists many activities, clubs and events promoting physical activity in Derbyshire.
  • Derby Leisure - Information about leisure and countryside services across the county.
  • British Orienteering and Xplorer - two websites to help young people get involved in orienteering.
  • Visit Sport England's website for up-to-date information and research.
   Promote a healthy environment

Learning outside the classroom is about raising achievement through an organised, powerful approach to learning in which direct experience is of prime importance. This is not only about what we learn but importantly how and where we learn. It is not an end in itself but rather a vehicle to develop the capacity to learn. Good quality learning outside the classroom adds great value to classroom learning. Much has been learnt in recent years about how the brain works and learning styles - the different ways in which we prefer to learn. The potential for learning is maximised if we use the powerful combination of physical, visual and naturalistic ways of learning. This is the case for ‘experiential’ or ‘authentic’ learning.

There are clear educational benefits by helping young people apply their knowledge across a range of challenges, learning outside the classroom builds bridges between theory and reality, schools and communities, young people and their futures. Quality learning experiences in ‘real’ situations have the capacity to raise achievement across a range of subjects and to develop better personal and social skills.

When these experiences are well planned, safely managed and personalised to meet the needs of every child they can:

  • Improve academic achievement
  • Provide a bridge to higher order learning
  • Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments
  • Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people
  • Nuture creativity
  • Provide opportunities for informal learning through play
  • Reduce behaviour problems and improve attendance
  • Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation
  • Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty
  • Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk
  • Improve young people's attitude to learning

   Useful Links
  • The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom - is the national voice for learning outside the classroom.They believe that every young person (0-19yrs) should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.
  • The Learning Through Landscapes - site is for anyone who shares their passion for creating stimulating outdoor learning and play experiences for children and young people. They hope you’ll find within it the practical inspiration to embark upon a new adventure in learning.
  • Derbyshire Environmental Studies Service - offer a wealth of opportunities for learning outside the classroom across Derbyshire - including day fieldwork programmes, training opportunities, Forest Schools and outreach visits.
   What is Wild Time for Schools?

What is Wild Time for Schools?

Wild Time for Schools is an easy-to-use, web based tool, to help teachers take learning outside. You can use it any time you like, as many days as you like, whenever you like.

The site gives you learning activities tagged against curriculum learning topics and key learning stages - all set out by time. So, whether you want to try out an easy ten minute activity for KS1, a one hour version or a whole day exploring data handling, writing, or investigating with KS2, have a look.

Find out more >