From education to employment

Ofsted push for more learning outside the classroom

According to a new report from Ofsted, some colleges and schools are missing out on the benefits students gain from off-site activities, because it fails to feature in their curriculum.

The publication, Learning outside the classroom: how far should you go?, found that, as well as enhancing a student’s learning with wider experiences, well-planned activities also help re-engage those who are hard to motivate.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: "The positive impact of learning outside the classroom is widely recognised, but unfortunately it is sometimes seen as an extra or a treat, rather than as an integral part of the curriculum. Many schools will find the examples highlighted in the report extremely useful."

Ofsted reveal that such activities, including visits to museums, foreign countries, and even after-hours sports and music clubs, not only increase pupils’ enjoyment in their subjects, but their achievement in them too.

One school that championed outside learning in the survey used fund-raisers and its own budget to finance trips, so parents were made free of the financial burden. Another, that also recognised the value of outside learning as integral to its curriculum, set-up bursaries for pupils. It was therefore successful in promoting social inclusion, and ensured that all those from disadvantaged backgrounds could participate too.

Indeed, schools with curricular provision deemed by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ or ‘improving’ incorporated these ideals into their students’ education, but many are still deterred by health and safety, financial and workload concerns. The report highlighted that few are aware of the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto. This was launched by the Government just two years ago with the strict purpose of encouraging more off-site learning.

Ofsted believe the Department for Children, Schools and Families should bolster their message about the value of learning outside the classroom, and support its appropriate use more widely across its programmes. It wants to see colleges and schools ensuring their curriculum planning includes significantly well-structured opportunities for all learners to participate in outside learning as "a key, integrated element of their experience." Ofsted insists they should also evaluate the quality of learning outside the classroom to ensure it has maximum impact on learners’ personal development, achievement and well-being.

Related Articles