Breathing new life into outdoor education again

outdoor education
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Nigel Miller, Group Managing Director at Active Learning Group, explores the importance of bringing outdoor education back after a long year indoors

Parents across the country are amid another wave of change in their family lives. It’s not COVID-19 related this time, thankfully, but the hit and miss of finding quality outdoor activities for their children to participate in throughout school holidays.

When it seems like children have only just moved back into their school routine and away from home-learning, it’s now time for them to kick back and enjoy some downtime in the comfort of their own home, and for parents everywhere, the struggle of juggling work and childcare re-emerges all too soon.

Summer holidays

But following 18 months of children being reliant on-screen time for their entertainment, socialisation and education, this summer holiday should be one of exploration and learning in the great outdoors, agrees Nigel Miller, CEO of Active Learning Group, based in Oxfordshire.

“I believe that being outside brings out the very best in those children who want to re-connect with nature and their peers, especially after being indoors and playing on screens for such a long time.

“This summer, I’d like to see even more children playing and re-discovering the great outdoors in their own time, and not being afraid to get their hands and knees dirty. I often look back at my children’s childhood and throughout their lives I have always encouraged them to challenge themselves. They are both avid footballers and I’ve stood at the side-lines spurring them on and they are always exceeding my expectations. Seeing them take part in outdoor sports as part of a team makes me feel not only proud of them but I also truly believe in what I do in my day job. Outdoor activities really do bring one another together.

“As a business that has been severely affected by the global pandemic, we also know how important outdoor education and school trips are to our young people’s social and emotional development as well as their education. It helps children develop character and resilience whilst building upon essential life skills within environments that promote and enhance wellbeing and fun.”

Residential camps

It would seem there are many parents who share the same view as SuperCamps, one of ALG’s school holiday camps, is largely booked in every location across the UK which is something that is both encouraging and inspiring.

Mr Miller adds: “While the decision to book children into these camps may have come from the parents or guardians, we know from feedback that by the time they leave, it’s often the children that are wanting to come back again and again.

“We hope that this will inspire teachers that have understandably shown caution over the past year or so to put outdoor education back on the map for their pupils. It’s time to re-assure all schools and parents that residential school trips can (and should) go ahead from September, to ensure that pupils get the chance to gain their independence, build-up their confidence and develop vital skills that will take them into either their teenage years or adulthood as well-rounded individuals who can navigate the ups and downs of life and ride the waves of change.”

Chris Rayner, Educational Visit Co-ordinator at Colchester High School said: “We recently participated in a 5-day residential trip at Cuffley, and I was so impressed with the service. It is the first time we have experienced the multi-activity residential camp and with all the pressures COVID has brought, I think the team delivered a great experience to our year group. Without the centre at Cuffley and the Active Learning Group team, our pupils would have missed out on a residential trip this year.

“We are really excited to see what offerings are available with Active Learning Group in the future as we’re eager to get our young people back outside. September, for us, and for so many other schools will be a fresh start that’s full of optimism and opportunities. There is already pent-up demand amongst our children and increasingly so amongst our parents who know and believe that their children will once again soon be able to reap so many benefits of outdoor education and experiential learning opportunities.”


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