Select Committee on Education and Skills Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Department for Education and Skills

BACKGROUND

  1.  The Department published its Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners in July 2004. It sets out an ambitious agenda for reform which will give high standards for all within a broad and rich curriculum. Out of classroom learning is an important contributor to an enriched curriculum.

  2.  Five key principles underpin our drive for a step change:

    —  greater personalisation and choice with the needs of children, parents and learners at the centre;

    —  opening up services to new and different providers and new ways of delivering services;

    —  freedom and independence for frontline headteachers, governors and managers with clear simple accountabilities and more secure streamlined funding arrangements;

    —  a major commitment to staff development with high quality support and training to improve assessment, care and teaching;

    —  partnerships with parents, employers, volunteers and voluntary organisations to maximise the life chances of children, young people and adults.

  3.  For schools this translates into more freedom to teach and to improve. We intend to strip out unnecessary bureaucracy, give teachers and headteachers more confidence, and treat different schools differently—challenging those that underperform, but being less directive with those that perform well. This means a single annual review (less often for high performing schools) conducted by a "school improvement partner"; a new inspection regime with shorter, sharper inspections and a stronger role for school self evaluation. We will help schools to engage more effectively with parents and the local community.

  4.  For pupils, at both primary and secondary schools this means a richer curriculum, with better teaching and more personalised support. Our focus on subject specialism will enable teachers to refresh and develop their subject knowledge and teaching skills. Our network of specialist schools will grow, until all secondary schools of sufficient standard are specialist by 2008, providing strong community links and centres of curriculum excellence.

  5.  The thrust of these reforms is to demand excellence and high standards for all within a framework of accountability, support and challenge. The majority of schools will have more freedom to determine their own direction in a way that meets the needs of their pupils and local communities. There will be support for staff development and to help schools work together in powerful networks.

  6.  Freedom from many existing constraints and burdens, coupled with added confidence and expertise, will encourage enriched teaching and learning. Teachers who are confident in their own ability and who are encouraged to broaden their range of teaching approaches, will be more willing to get out the classroom and to use the outdoors as a resource across the curriculum with pupils of all ages and abilities.

  7.  Our strategy makes two specific offers which will underpin the wider reforms in encouraging education outside the classroom:

  8.  Every school—not just extended schools—should do their utmost to serve the needs of the whole child. In particular, our aim is that every school should be a healthy school, giving good teaching and advice about nutrition and exercise backed up by its school lunches, by its PE and school sport, and by its playground activities. Through this work, we will tackle levels of obesity in children, aiming to halt the growth in obesity among under-11s by 2010.

  9.  Every school should also be an environmentally sustainable school, with a good plan for school transport that encourages walking and cycling, an active and effective recycling policy (moving from paper to electronic processes wherever possible) and a school garden or other opportunities for children to explore the natural world. Schools must teach our children by example as well as by instruction.

  10.  And, as part of our offer for secondary schools:

  11.  We will widen opportunities beyond the classroom. Often, these provide some of the most memorable experiences at school—the school trip, the drama production, or playing in the school team.

DEFINITIONS

  For the purpose of this Inquiry, we are including the following within "Education outside the classroom":

  For pupils aged three to five; five to 11; 11-16, using the outdoors as a context for learning. In the English National Curriculum, this encompasses study within most subjects, but particularly science, geography, citizenship, history and PE. It includes out-of-school sports, gardening, and other clubs.

  Off-site day visits to field study centres; field studies in local area—eg street, shopping centre, ponds, rivers, woodland, coastline; outdoor museums and heritage sites; commercial and city farms, allotments, country estates; outdoor and adventure centres and swimming pools.

  On-site—school grounds development, eg using D&T to design and make an artefact; science in wildlife area; sustainable development; PE and sport on playing fields/netball courts etc; art and drama in the outdoors.

  Off site residential experiences—sporting, cultural, field study, DofE—to a variety of places in UK and abroad—eg campsites and youth hostels.

HOW DFES POLICIES ARE SUPPORTING AND PROMOTING EDUCATION OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

  12.  The policies set out below are already in place, or under development and help to support and encourage schools to use the outdoors as an integral part of teaching and learning. This is part of a thread running through mainstream policies to stimulate a broader and richer educational experience for pupils of all ages, exemplified, for example, through the publication of Excellence and Enjoyment, the Department's strategy for primary schools in summer 2003.

  13.  In our evidence to the Inquiry we seek to draw out how we are tackling the barriers identified by the Committee in its terms of reference:

    —  costs and funding of outdoor activities;

    —  the place of outdoor learning within the curriculum;

    —  external assessment of provision;

    —  organisation and integration within existing school structures;

    —  qualification and motivation of teachers and the effect on teacher workload;

    —  the fear of accidents and the possibility of litigation;

    —  how provision in the UK compares with that of other countries.

COSTS AND FUNDING OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

School budgets

  14.  From 2006 we will provide guaranteed three-year budgets for every school, geared to pupil numbers, with every school also guaranteed a minimum per pupil increase every year. This will give unprecedented practical financial security and freedom to schools in their forward planning.

  15.  The new dedicated Schools Budget will enable us to give all schools guaranteed three-year budgets, aligned with the school year, not the financial year as now. Schools funding from Local Authorities will increase by more than 6% in 2005-06, and we plan that the dedicated Schools Budget will deliver increases at at least that rate in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Paying for school activities

  16.  The law states that education provided during school hours must be free. This includes materials, equipment, and transport provided in school hours by the Local Education Authority (LEA) or by the school to carry pupils between the school and an activity. Schools can however ask parents for a voluntary contribution towards the costs.

  17.  Parents can only be charged for activities that happen outside school hours when these activities are not a necessary part of the National Curriculum or that form part of the school's basic curriculum for religious education. In addition, no charge can be made for activities that are an essential part of the syllabus for an approved examination. However, charges may be made for other activities that happen outside school hours if parents agree to pay.

  18.  Where schools are seeking voluntary contributions, it must be made clear that children of parents who do not contribute will not be treated any differently. If a particular activity cannot take place without some help from parents, it should be explained to them at the planning stage. Where there are not enough voluntary contributions to make the activity possible, and there is no way to make up the shortfall, ie from school funds, then it must be cancelled. The essential point is that no pupil may be left out of an activity because his or her parents cannot, or will not, make a contribution.

Costs of outdoor centres

  19.  Costs will vary according to whether the provider (for example, an outdoor centre) is commercial or wholly funded by the LEA. LEAs have discretion to delegate funds to schools for outdoor education and a power to retain it at LEA level if they so wish. Having granted this power, DfES recognises a few LEA centres have been closed in areas where the LEA has decided to send pupils to commercial or charitable trust centres. The DfES has no view on this so long as the opportunities for adventure are made available for those pupils who want them.

School Transport Bill

  20.  The School Transport Bill will enable a small number of Local Education Authorities to put forward innovative proposals that offer a range of good quality, cost effective alternatives to the family car on the school run. Schemes must reduce car dependency, focus on local priorities and consider the travel and transport needs of all pupils. We will welcome proposals that cater for pupils with specific needs, for example those who want to join in extra curricular or off-site activities.

  21.  The Bill will allow LEAs to charge affordable fares for home to school transport whilst guaranteeing that children eligible for free school meals will be protected, where transport or travel assistance is provided, whether or not they live beyond the statutory walking distances. "Pump-priming" money of up to £200,000 will be provided to LEAs who implement schemes we have approved.

Capital Funding for Schools

  22.  The Department allocates capital funding to Local Authorities (LAs) and schools, for the improvement of their school buildings estate. Decisions about how to spend capital funding on school grounds and facilities for outdoor learning are made locally at LA or school level. There are no barriers from DfES on the use of government capital for investment in school grounds, or in facilities for activities outside the classroom. We do not, except in very exceptional circumstances, fund the acquisition of land itself.

  23.  Our funding programmes include the standards focused Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative to re-build and/or re-furbish the secondary school estate over the next 10-15 years. Schools, LAs and their partners are encouraged to look as widely as possible at all educational needs, both inside and outside the classroom, as part of their overall capital strategy.

  24.  More specifically, we provide design guidance in the form of Building Bulletins:

    —  building Bulletins 71: "The Outdoor Classroom" (2nd edition 1999) and 85: "School Grounds" (1997), highlight the potential of school grounds as a valuable resource to support and enrich the whole curriculum and the education of all pupils;

    —  building Bulletin 95: "Schools for the Future" (2003), gives guidance on developing external areas in "schools for the 21st century";

    —  non-statutory area guidelines for outdoor areas have recently been updated and are available in Building Bulletin 98: "Briefing Framework for Secondary School Projects" and Building Bulletin 99: "Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects". For the first time, these now include specific recommendations for "habitat areas" developed for a wide range of activities (such as meadowland, wildlife habitats and gardens to support the curriculum and improve play and recreational spaces), as well as outdoor PE facilities and informal and social areas.

  25.  We commissioned 11 leading architectural practices to develop "exemplar" designs for primary and secondary schools. School grounds were included in the brief and several of the design teams considered the outdoor environment as a key part of their overall design. They proposed ambitious options as the basis of future development.

  26.  We fund a number of LEA-driven pilot projects for "Classrooms of the Future" to explore the potential of school grounds for enhancing pupils' learning, play and social experiences. For example:

    —  Sheffield, which concerns integrating the indoor and outdoor classroom;

    —  Bedfordshire, developed in partnership with the Science Museum, which includes the installation of external skill-based interactive displays, mixing play, exercise and social interchange;

    —  Bournemouth, which is the only field study centre in the initiative. It will be a sustainable centre of e-learning and environmental discovery at a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and will have electronic links to schools in the area and to remote centres worldwide.

  27.  We are developing joint working with other organisations, for example, Learning Through Landscapes (LtL). We are providing funding over three years (2002-05) to support school-based projects and guidance. The LtL "School Grounds of the Future" programme aims to demonstrate how school grounds can be transformed and managed as high quality curriculum environments for the benefit of children's learning and development and provide an asset for the whole school community (http://www.ltl.org.uk/). A School Grounds of the Future pilot phase with 20 schools is completed. This is being followed by a wider outreach phase, available to all LAs in England.

  28.  We also manage the process whereby LAs and schools cannot dispose or change the use of school playing fields without the Secretary of State's consent. When agreed, any proceeds must be used to improve schools sport and leisure facilities

THE PLACE OF OUTDOOR LEARNING WITHIN THE CURRICULUM

The Foundation Stage

  29.   Birth To Three Matters recognises the importance of outdoor play in child development. There are references to visits to parks, shops and libraries and children participating in outdoor activities. Curriculum guidance for the foundation stage makes clear that play, both indoors and outdoors, is an important way children learn with enjoyment and challenge.

  30.  We continue to work with Local Authorities, providing advice and support on planning and developing outdoor early learning environments. We continue to promote the importance of how outdoor play is crucial for children's growth and development. We encourage children's opportunities to explore the outdoor environments through a range of activities covering the six areas of learning in the Foundation Stage. We support early years settings to plan and use the outdoor space available for children's socio-emotional, cognitive and physical development.

  31.  We are tackling some of the barriers to outdoor learning by supporting the Learning through Landscapes voluntary organisation to provide a programme promoting and increasing equal access to quality outdoor play spaces for children from birth-five years old. In 2003-04 Learning through Landscapes developed; Early Years Outdoor support materials and resources, an Early Years toolkit and video, website, birth to three materials, and a training package.

  32.  The Early Years Outdoors training package offers training, support and motivates Early Years practitioners, childcare professionals, volunteers and all parents who have responsibility for helping children learn and develop physically, emotionally, socially and academically. The Foundation Stage Directors work closely with LtL and we continue to provide support through them.

  33.  The Sure Start guidance on the design of Children Centres emphasises the importance of a well designed and managed outdoor environment, to provide a range of opportunities and experiences that are essential to healthy growth and development and can never be replicated inside a building, however well designed or resourced. The guidance includes a case study on outdoor environment in an early years centre.

The Primary Strategy

  34.  The Primary Strategy is supporting outdoor learning by recognising it as part of a broad and rich curriculum and as an area that can be used to support literacy and numeracy as well as teaching other skills. For instance, the recently developed professional development materials for teachers—"Excellence and Enjoyment: learning and teaching in the primary years"—include a video about creating a learning culture which has a section based at an outdoor pursuits centre. This shows pupils experiencing various challenging outdoor activities, which help them to develop a wide range of physical and interpersonal skills, whilst also linking into a range of curriculum subjects.

  35.  We have recently produced a CD ROM for teachers showing good practice of ICT in teaching, which includes examples of outdoor work such as the use of digital cameras. We also propose to issue to schools later in the year a CD ROM, entitled "Making the curriculum your own" which will include examples of outdoor learning.

  36.  Through these materials we are:

    —  providing best practice examples to schools to demonstrate how outdoor learning can help schools meet the objectives of the Primary Strategy;

    —  boosting teacher confidence by providing support and guidance;

    —  cutting down the time needed to plan activities from scratch;

    —  ensuring that outdoor learning activities and resources link directly to the Primary Strategy and National Curriculum.

Key Stage 3 National Strategy

  37.  The strategy is improving the quality of teaching and learning in all secondary schools so that pupils are equipped with the skills and the learning experiences to become active independent learners for the future. Through the Key Stage 3 National Strategy we are helping teachers to tailor teaching, regularly assess progress and use a variety of learning opportunities, including outdoor learning, to meet the needs of individual pupils and thereby personalising their learning and school experience.

  38.  The Strategy is tackling some of the barriers to outdoor learning by providing resources for teachers to make lessons engaging, challenging and enjoyable, including the use of outdoor learning. For example, the Foundation Subjects strand of the KS3 National Strategy encourages beyond the classroom learning, contextualising the subject in the wider context of its application in real life situations. In geography pupils investigate a wide range of environments and carry out geographical enquiry outside the classroom. Similarly the Science strand of the Strategy actively supports and promotes science professional organisations which are also committed to effective use of outdoor learning.

  39. The Strategy also provides a £10k school development grant for each secondary school to spend on any purpose to support improvements in teaching and learning, which can be used by schools to undertake outdoor learning.

NATIONAL CURRICULUM SUBJECTS

Science

  40.  Within the context of the Government's 10 year investment framework for Science and Innovation we are ensuring that the science we teach in schools is relevant and accessible, enthusing students by encouraging exciting practical work, outdoor learning opportunities and use of cutting edge ICT equipment.

  41.  We are tackling some of the barriers to outdoor learning by:

    —  enhancing opportunities for continuing professional development for science teachers through the development of a £51 million network of science learning centres. We have funded the Association for Science Education (ASE) and the Geographical Association to develop training courses that will increase teacher skills and confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. These will be delivered through some of the science learning centres from 2005;

    —  training a new cadre of science-specialist Higher-Level Teaching Assistants to enable every secondary school in England to recruit at least one by 2007-08;

    —  expanding substantially the number of undergraduate volunteers supporting pupils learning science, by 2006-07;

    —  developing a flexible curriculum that encourages development of practical skills and encourages use of a range of teaching formats and techniques—QCA's new outline Science Programme of Study for Key Stage 4 is based around practical skills and knowledge of how science works; and knowledge and understanding in selected areas of science. Will be in schools from 2006;

    —  new GCSE for Science, science in the 21st century, piloted in 80 schools from September 2003 and new GCSE in Applied Science in schools from September 2002.

Geography

  42.  Geography is the only subject where outdoor learning is a statutory requirement for pupils aged 5-14. Fieldwork is an essential part of the subject because it enables pupils of all ages to experience places for themselves, enabling them to relate this first hand experience to what is learnt in the classroom. There are important personal and social benefits to the learner, as well as subject learning. Several recent research reviews supported by the Department clearly make the case for fieldwork as an integral part of geography pedagogy.

  43.  Recognising the barriers to outdoor learning, the Department is funding the Field Studies Council and the Geographical Association to develop a professional development unit in managing and leading fieldwork, a companion to that being developed via the science learning centres.

  44.  The Department has established a Geography Development Fund in 2004-05 in recognition of the need to improve the teaching, learning and status of the subject. This, combined with Humanities specialist schools; the new Secretary of State's Geography Focus Group; supporting work through the National Strategies and Stephen Twigg's announcement that the Department will be appointing a new Chief Adviser, are sending clear signals to the subject community and schools.

  45.  The Geography Development Fund (GDF) will support work in primary geography, the new GCSE, building subject networks, creating new materials for the QCA Innovating with Geography website and a scoping study into progression and teaching and learning 5-19. All strands of the GDF will support fieldwork. The Department works closely with the two main subject associations—the Royal Geographical Society and the Geography Association—which will be undertaking the GDF work.

  46.  The Focus Group, which brings together representatives from the subject bodies, teachers, Heads, higher education, business, international development and the media, met for the first time on 13 October, and identified the unique benefits of first hand experience through fieldwork as a key part of its future work programme.

  47.  The post of Geography Chief Adviser will be advertised shortly.

History and Art & Design

   48.  The National Curriculum Programme of Study for History at Key Stages 2 and 3 sets out that pupils should be taught historical enquiry skills through a range of sources. Artefacts and visits to historic buildings, sites and museums are all given as examples of sources. The Programme of Study for Art & Design sets out that pupils should investigate different kinds of art, craft and design. Visits to museums and sites are given as examples of ways they can do this. The Scheme of Work for Art & Design includes a unit on "Visiting a Museum, Gallery or Site". The 2002-03 Ofsted subject report on Art & Design in secondary schools said that the potential of these visits for many schools "remains untapped, despite the considerable impact such visits can have on pupils' understanding and appreciation of art".

Citizenship

  49.  The Programme of Study for citizenship includes that pupils be taught to negotiate, decide and take part responsibly in both school and community-based activities. Many schools provide opportunities for this through their involvement with, and pupils' interest in, volunteering and other forms of community service, for example, renovation of environmental and community outdoor areas.

  50.  We have successfully piloted Active Citizens in Schools, which extends the Millennium Volunteers principles to 11-15 year olds, providing opportunities for active citizenship lessons through engagement in schools. Guidance for schools has been produced and is being disseminated.

PE and School Sport

  51.  Outdoor learning is an integral part of Physical Education (PE) and school sport. The National Curriculum PE programme of study also encourages schools to choose Outdoor and Adventurous Activities as one of the six activities that should be taught to pupils. As a national curriculum subject, typically delivered outside of the classroom and even the school, PE is inspected by Ofsted.

  52.  Outdoor learning via PE and school sport is being transformed through delivery of the PE, School Sport and Club Links (PESSCL) strategy, which aims to increase the percentage of pupils who spend a minimum of two hours each week on high quality PE and sport within and beyond the curriculum to 75% by 2006 extending to 85% by 2008. Within the context of the five year strategy and New Relationship with Schools, the PESSCL strategy is supporting outdoor learning by encouraging partnership working, workforce reform and providing schools with greater choice through targeted funding for example.

  53.  The PESSCL strategy's major investment comes through the School Sport Partnerships programme—Partnerships of schools that come together to share best practice, expertise and resources. Each partnership receives a grant of up to £270,000 each year providing choice on how to deploy these resources and all schools will be in a partnership by 2006.

  54.  This high profile national strategy is tackling many of the barriers to outdoor learning by:

    —  implementing the national Professional Development programme for PE—to provide modules specifically advising teachers on delivering Outdoor and Adventurous Activities (on and off-site) and ensure that teachers who lack the confidence to deliver PE have the tools and expertise they need. This is available to all teachers in England, although primary teachers, who are often intimidated by PE for fear of accidents and litigation, are being given priority.

    —  funding the £10 million Sporting Playgrounds programme, which aims to enhance school playgrounds to increase physical activity and improve behaviour. 592 primary schools are benefiting from this programme and many encourage pupils to act as outdoor play leaders for younger children. Many of the playgrounds have facilities and innovative markings that allow a number of curriculum subjects to be delivered in what is now regarded by heads as an outdoor classroom.

  55.  We support all kinds of educational visit that have clear educational objectives and are properly risk-assessed and managed. We need to recognise that not all pupils wish to undertake high-hazard adventure activities. More and more schools and LEAs are using professional providers whose safety management is inspected and licensed on behalf of the Government. This makes sense for ensuring a high standard of pupil safety.

ACROSS THE CURRICULUM

Growing Schools

  56.  Growing Schools began in 2001, as a response to concerns that young people had become distanced from nature and that pupils of all ages needed to understand the connections between the food they saw in supermarkets and the land that produced it; to understand the interdependence between urban and rural environments, to learn about the countryside, and the wildlife and the people it sustains.

  57.  Growing Schools is for pupils of all ages and abilities and encourages teachers to see the outdoor classroom both within and beyond school grounds as a valuable learning resource. This is not about adding extra burdens, or something new into the curriculum, but underpinning personalised learning through a wider range of teaching approaches. More than 10,000 schools have signed up to participate in the Growing Schools programme which works in partnership with some 25 organisations from the outdoor sector.

  58.  Growing Schools began by consulting teachers and practitioners from the NGO sector. Two things emerged: first hand, active learning was an invaluable, part of the learning process; but while many schools were keen to use the outdoor classroom, there were significant barriers—either real or perceived. These included lack of funding (either to develop school grounds or make out-of-school visits), health and safety issues, lack of training and confidence among teachers and no time to plan creative outdoor lessons; difficulty in accessing information.

  59.  Five flagship projects were set up to provide a sample of replicable best practice—training modules, lesson plans, schemes of work, case studies, activity packs—all focusing on one or more of the identified barriers. More than 30 partner organisations and 350 schools were involved, with pupils aged three to 19 participating.

  60.  Some schools focused on growing within their school grounds, with pupils growing vegetables and fruit, then preparing and eating them. Others shared a community allotment with local groups or established links with local commercial and city farms, regularly visiting to study the animals and crops. Some worked with land-based colleges, for example, having an incubator on loan until the chicks hatched, then following the chicks' growth and life via a web cam as part of science and maths. At field study centres, schools joined in growing and composting on day or residential visits, and then explored healthy eating, recycling, food miles and global issues.

  61.  In 2002 Growing Schools exhibited work from schools in their own grounds at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. The garden has since been relocated to Greenwich Environmental Curriculum Centre in East London and provides CPD and inspiration for teachers. Over 15,000 schools have requested the Growing Schools teacher resource pack.

  62.  Growing Schools supports key policies:

    —  Foundation Stage Curriculum—encouraging Early Years Settings to make the most of their outdoor areas in delivering the six key areas of learning. Learning through Landscapes has established projects in Yorkshire with support from Growing Schools. This has continued to expand over the past year with further support from Sure Start.

    —  Excellence and Enjoyment: A Strategy for Primary Schools—providing a broad, balanced, rich and exciting curriculum which retains the literacy and numeracy focus while providing varied teaching and learning to stimulate and motivate pupils. Growing Schools offers teachers access to tried and tested schemes of work, lesson plans, and activity packs.

    —  Field Studies—promoting the importance of learning off site, particularly as part of Geography and Science. Growing Schools encourages and supports schools making off-site visits.

    —  Healthy Schools and the Healthy Living Blueprint—Growing Schools supports teaching about food, where it comes from, how it was produced, and the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

    —  14-19 Education and Training—supporting young people to choose careers in the land based sector, through "Growing Lives", linked to a careers and course database.

  63.  The website is a micro-site within teachernet at www.teachernet.gov.uk/growingschools. It provides access to health & safety guidance, funding sources, research, training (ITT & CPD) for both teachers and providers. There is a database of resource materials (case studies, schemes of work, lesson plans). Schools can register, join the e-discussion group, receive regular new letters and exchange ideas. It provides access to over 1,000 places to visit, enabling teachers to find, for example, farms, field study centres, forest schools and outdoor museums.

  64.  Pilot area partnerships in the North East and London bring together support and CPD opportunities for schools locally and regionally. Hampshire LEA offers a similar Outdoor Learning Trailblazer network. Others being developed will build on work already undertaken, for example Gloucester University supported by Growing Schools to develop a local network, website and Citizenship ITT and CPD training modules.

  65.  Growing Schools supports Access to Farms which has developed an accreditation scheme to help providers improve the quality of what is offered to visiting schools. Further work is planned with other providers, for example, estates, field study centres, woodlands/forests and gardens. Support is also offered to schools with their own farms, through the Schools Farm Network.

  66.  Growing Schools is developing a Local Schools Support Network. Schools will register their needs through the website, eg how to grow seasonal vegetables, manpower to build a wildlife pond, help maintaining the school grounds during holidays—which will then be passed on to associate organisations and groups (including The Royal Horticultural Society), who in turn will disseminate these needs to their membership base around the country. Members will then be encouraged to share their expertise and time with the registered schools—either on a regular basis or for a specific project.

  67.  At the National Advisory Group meeting on 20 September, the Music Manifesto was presented to the group. The music manifesto is about creating more music for more people. It offers a strategy and set of priorities for the next three to five years, focusing on children and young people. Developed by a 60-strong coalition of musicians, composers, educators, music industry representatives and policy makers, the music manifesto has been designed to be a living, interactive resource, owned by all those who sign up to it. Using this site, organisations and individuals can sign up to the manifesto on-line and showcase their own contributions by pledging tangible programmes and resources to help make it a reality. Growing Schools NAG members agreed there was considerable potential for a similar approach for outdoor learning.

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT

  68.  In 2003 DCMS and DfES Ministers appointed the Joint Advisory Committee on Built Environment Education (JACBEE) to examine the potential for the contemporary and historic built environment to be utilised more effectively as a learning resource, particularly by schools. Recommendations were submitted to Ministers in September 2004 and were approved in principle. The recommendations included that CABE, English Heritage and interested parties should work together to produce a proposal for the creation of a "one stop shop" for built environment education that would provide a comprehensive resource of tools, advice, best practice and contacts for schools and the general public.

  69. Implementation of the recommendations will be considered by a post-JACBEE steering group in the next few months. A summary report of the Committee's findings will be published by DCMS and DfES early in 2005 with the aim of raising awareness with teachers, other educators and the public about the educational value of buildings, places and spaces.

Outdoor museums

  70.  Between 1999 and 2006 DfES will have contributed £12 million to museum and gallery education, to assist museums and galleries to support projects with schools. Outdoor museums will have been among the museums benefiting from this funding.

  71.  As part of the Renaissance in the Regions programme to regenerate regional museums, DCMS has ring-fenced £10 million (to 2006) for delivering education programmes to school children. DfES has contributed an additional £2.2 million to this education fund.

  72.  In 2003-04 DfES contributed £1.25 million to the DfES/DCMS National/Regional Partnership projects fund (DCMS contributed a further £1.35), whereby National museums formed partnerships with one or more smaller regional institutions to deliver education projects to schools.

  73.  The DfES Museums & Galleries Education Programme (MGEP) ran from 1999 to March 2004 and saw a total investment of £4 million in schools-focused museum and gallery education projects. The programme used the collections and exhibitions of museums and galleries to enrich the National Curriculum. There were 118 projects in 130 museums and galleries and at least 20,000 school pupils took part. The evaluation of the 2nd phase of this programme was published on 30 September 2004 and was positive about both pupil and teacher learning outcomes (the full report and Executive Summary are available at www.teachernet.gov.uk/mgep2).

  74.  In April 2004, DCMS and DfES announced joint funding of £7 million over two years (2004-06) for museum and gallery education. This will be directed towards national and regional museums and galleries to enable them to work more closely with schools. DCMS and DfES are due to be publishing a Museums and Galleries Education Strategy later this year.

SPECIALIST SCHOOLSTHE RURAL DIMENSION

  75.  Since October 2003, all schools aspiring for specialist status have been able to develop a "rural dimension" in their application. Schools with a rural dimension can provide opportunities for their pupils to increase their understanding of aspects of life in the countryside. These include courses in land management (farming, animal health and welfare, forestry, fisheries, building, leisure), environmental stewardship (eg biodiversity, recycling, pollution), rural business and livelihoods (eg leisure & tourism, sports & recreation, rural crafts, farming) and natural and cultural heritage. There are currently five schools with a rural dimension.

  76.  The rural dimension is relevant to all schools, not just those located in a rural area. These schools will provide a balance between opportunities for learning first hand using the outdoor classroom as a context for learning—eg farms, parks, school grounds; and using rural issues or themes as learning contexts and/or applications within the core specialism subjects.

  77.  Schools will be expected to: encourage the use of school grounds, allotments and horticulture as contexts for teaching & learning; provide opportunities that relate to living things in their environment, both natural and managed; support the development of social economic and environmental responsibility and citizenship; emphasise healthy eating and lifestyle; develop business education links, work based and work related learning—in a rural context; raise achievement through preferred learning styles such a naturalistic learning, practical learning and spatial/visual development.

THE WORLD OF WORK

  78.  All young people have an opportunity for work experience. From September 2004, there is a statutory requirement that schools include work-related learning within the curriculum for all students at Key Stage 4. Work-related learning involves using the context of work to develop knowledge, skills and understanding useful in employment.

    —  The Increased Flexibility for 14-16 Year Olds programme, began in September 2002 providing enhanced vocational and work-related learning opportunities for 14-16 year olds. Young people generally spend one or two days a week in an FE college, others visit a sixth form college, private training provider or learn with an employer.

    —  The Young Apprenticeship programme is a new opportunity for 14-16 year olds to combine the practical application of skills and knowledge in a vocational context with the pursuit of qualifications that related to particular occupational sectors. Wherever possible, the study will be practical and applied to work experience, working alongside full-time employees and full-time apprentices—for up to two days a week throughout the duration of Key Stage 4.

  79.  The opportunities available depend on the labour market and businesses in the area where they live. In areas where outdoor occupations, such as farming and forestry are strong, many young people will be able to experience the outdoors as part of their work experience.

STUDY SUPPORT (OUT OF SCHOOL HOURS LEARNING)

  80. Study support provision includes a wide range of learning activities including education outside the classroom. Young people participate voluntarily in study support and the learning activities take place outside normal lesson time. Study support helps to improve pupils' motivation, build self-esteem and help them to become more effective learners. This has a positive effect on their achievements in school and on their employability when they leave school.

  81.  The Ofsted report Learning Out of Hours: The Quality and Management of Study Support in Secondary Schools (October 2002) reinforces the positive effect of study support activities in improving attendance and attitudes.

  82.  A report produced by MORI/BMRB in August 2000, Out of School Hours Learning Activities: Surveys of Schools, Pupils and Parents, showed that in a survey of 204 schools, 97% offered some form of study support activity. A follow up survey of 850 schools (findings to be announced on 28 October 2004) found that 90% of primary schools and 98% of secondary are providing study support.

  83.  The Department has worked with the Teacher Training Agency to promote the benefits of study support to teachers and to embed the concept within initial teacher training and continuing professional development opportunities. Teachers frequently report that engagement in study support provides opportunities to be creative and experiment with a range of learning techniques which can be transferred into the classroom, and that it encourages more relaxed, informal relationships with pupils.

GET REAL

  84.  A new initiative is being piloted in the UK. Get REAL is a pilot programme, currently in its second year of development, which is being funded by the Big Lottery Fund. In 2003 Get REAL created opportunities for almost 2,000 11-17 year olds to take part in exciting residential programmes during the summer school holidays. The overall aim of the initiative is to give young people from all walks of life the chance to have time filled with adventure and fun in a safe environment, enjoying new and challenging experiences. The residential experience should provide young people with the opportunity to increase their awareness of their own learning skills and have a memorable experience through active adventure.

  85.  As set out in the 14-19 green paper, the government is committed to making sure that all young people should be encouraged to engage in active citizenship, work-related learning and wider activities such as art, music and sport. Access the DfES website; http://www.dfes.gov.uk/14-19greenpaper/ for a full copy of the green paper 14-19: extending opportunities, rising standards. The aim of Get REAL is to engage young people into learning through a range of wider activities which are not school-based.

  86.  The aims and desired outcomes and benefits to young people are:

    —  that they learn through active "adventure" to create a memorable experience that broadens horizons and enables them to:

—  increase their awareness of their own learning skills;

—  improve their life-skills and take them back to the classroom.

    —  that the programme content is not an extension of the school curriculum, but designed to increase awareness of learning and life-skills;

    —  to give young people from all walks of life the chance to enjoy a residential experience;

    —  to support development of community and social values, increase connections across socio-economic groups and promote citizenship.

ACADEMIES

  87.  We expect, as more of them open, that many Academies will be at the forefront of the provision of outdoor education. As independent institutions, they have the flexibility to raise standards by introducing innovative approaches to their management, governance, teaching and curriculum. Many Academies will have specialisms which focus on outdoor activities, from the more traditional activities such as sport, to newer innovative specialisms like design and the build environment and environmental science. Academies are also central to the significant capital investment we are making in the schools building stock. Their buildings and the surrounding grounds and playing fields are designed with the delivery of the curriculum in mind. Central to the programme is Academies commitment to sharing their expertise and first rate facilities with their local family of schools and the local community.

EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT OF PROVISION

  88. Ofsted remains committed to inspecting any aspects of a school's provision, including "out of the classroom" learning that has a significant effect on the achievement, personal development, attitudes or behaviour of pupils. Arrangements under both the current and future inspection frameworks have the scope to cover these aspects of a school's work, although the extent of this will vary depending on the context of the school.

  89.  Ofsted has reported on this area as a part of its thematic work, such as in the publication Learning out of hours: the quality and management of study support in secondary schools—Ofsted (October 2002). Ofsted published its report Outdoor Education—Aspects of Good Practice on 28 September 2004. There are also draft plans for an Ofsted survey in 2004-05 on The impact of geography field work on pupils' attitude and motivation.

  90.  Current inspection guidance contains specific references to "off-site study" and flexible curriculum arrangements (for example in pages 59, 61, 98, 99, 105 of the Handbook for inspecting secondary schools). Inspectors are required to consider these and the effects they may have on the standards pupils achieve and their personal development, including their attendance and attitudes to study.

  91.  The same approach will apply under the new proposals. If "out of the classroom" learning, is identified by the school in its self-evaluation as an area of significance or is regarded by the lead inspector during the pre-inspection as an area to pursue, then it will be pursued. A number of the questions in the proposed SEF (self-evaluation form) from September 2005 require schools to give details of any such provision and the effect the school feels it may have.

  92.  Safety of provision: The Department sponsors and funds the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). This public authority inspects the safety of commercial, charitable and LEA providers of high hazard adventure (that is, climbing, caving, trekking and waterborne activities) to under 18s on behalf of the Government. Holding a licence means a provider's safety management meets the AALA's rigorous standards. In this way we ensure that those pupils who wish to can experience exciting and stimulating activities outside the classroom without being exposed to avoidable risk of death or disabling injury. There are currently just over 1,000 licences in place. Our review of the Licensing Regime elicited strong support for the improvement and continuance of statutory safety inspections.

  93.  While continuing to fund and support the AALA, DfES is now exploring the possibilities of alternative means of regulation other than "classic regulation". With the support of the Health and Safety Executive and the Better Regulation Task Force, we are working with the outdoor sector to consider whether some form of self-regulation would be viable, initially for activities or providers complementary to those covered by the AALA.

ORGANISATION AND INTEGRATION WITHIN EXISTING SCHOOL STRUCTURES

Education Visits Co-ordinators

  94.  The Educational Visits Co-ordinator (EVC) role, monitoring and checking on the safety of visits, was developed in 2002 and funding of £3.5 million enabled LEAs to send delegates to training-the-trainer seminars delivered by the Outdoor Education Advisers Panel. All LEAs in England are signed up to the programme and some LEAs already have an EVC in every one of their schools.

  95.  The principal function of the EVC is to liaise with the LEA's outdoor education adviser and to ensure that school staff taking pupils on any kind of educational visit are competent to do so and trained as necessary in pupil safety outdoors. The Independent Schools Adventure Activities Association (ISAAA) holds training courses for independent school staff in all kinds of visit.

  96.  Risk assessment will disclose that school staff leading a visit normally need to hold an appropriate level of accreditation from the relevant National Governing Body. This is important since school staff leading their own pupils are not safety-inspected by the AALA. This is because outdoor education is not a school's prime function and it would be difficult to license a whole school for its incidental off-premises activities. It is more effective to try to ensure the relevant staff are accredited.

  97.  The Health and Safety Executive enforces the safety regulations that control adventure and the more general health and safety regulations that cover all other activities. Local authorities enforce safety law on commercial firms.

QUALIFICATION AMD MOTIVATION OF TEACHERS AND THE EFFECT ON TEACHER WORKLOAD

Initial Teacher Training

  98.  We are tackling lack of teacher confidence, expertise and experience in outdoor learning by recognising that valuable pupil learning can take place in a wide range of out-of-school contexts, and by recognising that teachers need to be able to plan to make the best use of such opportunities.

  99.  To this end, it is a requirement that, as relevant to the age range they are trained to teach, those awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) must demonstrate that they are able to plan opportunities for pupils to learn in out-of-school contexts, such as school visits, museums, theatres, field-work and employment-based settings, with the help of other staff where appropriate.

  100.  This requirement is specified in Qualifying to teach, which sets out the standards for QTS and requirements for initial teacher training. These standards came into force in September 2002 following extensive consultation, and describe the minimum amount that trainee teachers must know, understand and be able to do before they are awarded QTS.

  101.   Qualifying to teach is supported by non-statutory guidance in the form of a detailed handbook. It is in this handbook that the standards are unpacked and the implications of a range of issues for teaching and teacher training explored. Both these documents can be viewed on the Teacher Training Agency's website, www.tta.gov.uk.

Continuing Professional development

  102.  Central to improvements in teaching and learning is excellent professional development for all teachers—with more emphasis on classroom observation, practice, training, coaching and mentoring. We are building up teachers' demand for high quality training and development, by linking participation in professional development with career progression.

School Workforce Reform

  103. Teachers must be given better support so they can focus more of their time on their professional role of teaching and on activities which directly improve pupil attainment. The workforce reform agenda provides an opportunity for teachers and support staff to focus on individual pupils in a way that the profession has long campaigned for. The limits on cover introduced in September and the commitment to guaranteed planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time from next September, together with enhanced roles for support staff, present real opportunities to make a difference to each pupil's learning.

  104.  Educational visits are planned activities. Where teachers are absent due to participating in such activities, the absence is most appropriately covered by supply teachers or by using cover supervision. If a teacher at the school is used to cover for such an absence the amount of cover will count towards the annual limit of 38 hours. Where a teacher acquires non contact time in the timetable as a result of a class or group being absent on an educational visit, then the guidance for gained time should apply.

  105.  The guidance (see paragraphs 46-78 of School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document 2004 & Guidance on School Teachers' Pay and Conditions) states that activities to be undertaken by teachers in such gained time must be planned well in advance of the visit. It also contains a list of activities that teachers can be asked to do during gained time, eg teach booster classes. It may be possible, in some circumstances, to re-timetable in advance of trips so that those teachers left behind are able to do productive work with students, and not just "cover". For a large trip, this could involve providing in-school activities for the rest of the year group outside their normal timetable.

Support Staff

  106.  Since DfES published Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits: A Good Practice Guide in 1998 the Department has developed its policy on support staff in the light of the National Agreement on raising standards and tackling workload.

  107.  A key development is the introduction of The Education (Specified Work and Registration) (England) Regulations 2003 which came into force on 1 August 2003. These regulations set out the conditions under which support staff in schools may undertake specified teaching activities. Only well-trained support staff—normally having attained higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) status—will be leading classes, and then only under the direction and supervision of a teacher. There is no assumption that the teacher will always be physically present when a member of support staff is carrying out specified work.

  108.  It may be the case that support staff have the experience or skills to organise outdoor activities or will be able to provide cover for a teacher who may be out on visits. The Department envisages a number of ways in which support staff may help teachers, including acting as: Educational Visits Co-ordinator; or Group Leader; or Supervisor. Head teachers will decide the precise duties of support staff, based on the skills and experience of individuals. A range of advice and publications in this area are being revised and will be available in due course.

THE FEAR OF ACCIDENTS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF LITIGATION

  109.  We believe that school staff following the good practice guidance (see paragraph 107) should have nothing to fear from unfair accusation. We are pleased that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector shares this view. The recent Ofsted report on outdoor education focuses on the mainstreaming of outdoor education but reports that some teachers nonetheless do fear litigation where things go wrong. (They also fear the risks themselves, which is where the good practice guidance mentioned above serves a useful purpose in helping teachers in the skill of good risk assessment and risk management).

  110.  The Secretary of State said earlier this year that he would look into teacher union concerns about the implications for their members leading school visits if a child is injured. The Department believes there might be room for an improvement in the local management of injury cases and is looking into next steps along with teacher unions. On the litigation point, the Better Regulation Task Force has indicated that the number of civil claims actually decreased in 2003-04 by 60,000 across all sectors. Compensation amounts, in a smaller number of cases, have risen for reasons linked to medical costs and longer expectancy of life.

  111.  We recently supplemented our 1998 good practice guide, Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits (known as HASPEV) with new material based on three levels of risk assessment and approval by EVC or LEA. The new titles are Standards for LEAs in Overseeing Educational Visits, Standards for Adventure and A Handbook for Group Leaders (all 2002) and Group Safety at Water Margins (published in 2003 with the Central Council for Physical Recreation. This is used as course material for the EVC INSET training currently being rolled out at LEA/school level. To avoid unnecessary burdens we do not send our good practice literature automatically to every school; however over 100,000 copies of HASPEV and some 50,000 copies of the supplementary leaflets have been sent out on request.

RESEARCH

  112.  The Department has commissioned the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards and the Scouts to carry out a map of Residential Experience opportunities for young people. It will help us to look at how residential opportunities can contribute to more young people taking advantage of extra curricular activities. The work is due to be completed by the end of December.

  113.  A literary review of the research into using food, farming and the countryside as a context for learning (UK and abroad) was funded by Growing Schools in partnership with CA & FACE (published report available at www.dfes.gov.uk/research).

  114.  Growing Schools is funding further action research by NfER/King's College/CREE. It includes in-depth case study research at a selection of outdoor sites; investigating teaching & learning processes; learning outcomes and wider benefits; and curriculum links. The study is also conducting action research through a group of teachers, field centre staff and farm educators, to devise and trial teaching and/or evaluation strategies. Focus groups are exploring the views of providers and key stakeholders to inform the design of the project, get feedback on emerging findings and act as a dissemination channel. The project is due to report in April 2005.

  115.  The Department part-funded the Field Studies Council led literature review into outdoor learning which was published earlier this year. The review examined 150 pieces of research, covering three types of learning—fieldwork & outdoor visits; outdoor adventure education; school grounds/community projects. The study found:

    —  substantial evidence that fieldwork, properly conceived, adequately planned, well taught and effectively followed up offers learners opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in ways that add value to their everyday experience in the classroom;

    —  strong evidence of the positive benefits of outdoor adventure education, both short and long term, particularly for interpersonal/social outcomes;

    —  important impacts, including greater confidence, pride in community, stronger motivation towards learning, greater sense of belonging and responsibility.

  116.  This study is very helpful in building the case for the positive benefits of outdoor learning.

Annex A

INTERNATIONAL COMPARISONS

  The Department has not recently undertaken a systematic comparison of provision in other countries. However, for the purposes of this Inquiry, we have sourced some examples from around the world—from Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.

DENMARK

  Children in Denmark start compulsory schooling at age seven. Children between the ages of three and six attend kindergarten, and the majority of children age six to seven are in pre-school classes.

Kindergartens

  Childcare facilities are obliged to draw up learning plans for the children covering six areas. One of these is nature, and it is clear from Ministry guidance that first hand experience of nature is essential. It is normal practice for children in kindergartens to spend a fair proportion each day in the playground/outdoor area attached to the kindergarten, and in addition to play activities such areas may have small allotments for plants, vegetables, and others may have an area with animals (rabbits, goats or sheep). All kindergartens and nurseries take the children for walks, and arrange regular trips to the local library, farms, forests, the zoo, a museum, etc. Many kindergartens have an annual trip with a couple of overnight stays either at a seaside cottage, or a cottage in the woods. Some kindergartens are situated in the woods, and children in these spend practically the entire day in the forest.

Schools

  The central administration of the Folkeskole (curriculum) is in the hands of the Ministry of Education. The Danish Parliament takes the decisions governing the overall aims of the education, and the Minister of Education sets the targets for each subject. But the municipalities and schools decide how to reach these targets.

  The Ministry of Education publishes curriculum guidelines for the individual subjects, but these are seen purely as recommendations and as such are not mandatory for local school administrators. Schools are permitted to draw up their own curricula as long as they are in accordance with the aims and proficiency areas laid down by the Minister of Education. However, nearly all schools choose to confirm the centrally prepared guidelines as their binding curricula.

  Guidelines for specific subjects state an expectation for teachers to undertake education outside the classroom in science and geography, and many teachers do so. It will however vary from teacher to teacher how often it is done. The exact wording in the Order setting out aims etc for science and geography can be found on http://eng.uvm.dk/publications/laws/Aims.htm?menuid=1515.

  Although, it may not refer to activities outside the classroom in the guidelines for all subjects, many teachers will arrange such activities. Examples of these are: weekly trips to swimming-pools (at least one year during the school years as part of PE), field studies in local area—lakes, forests etc, an annual sporting day, outdoor sport activities from Easter to mid-October, visits to museums of all kinds (art, natural science, history—indoor and outdoor), theatre and cinema visits, etc.

  Most activities are organised by the teachers themselves, but there are some providers of outdoor activities. These include farmers who open their doors to school classes, Learn about Forests arrangements (funded by money from ministries, local authorities, organisations and private funds), private companies who organise tree climbing or other special sporting activities (these are mainly used by after school care clubs), and organisers of events for school classes to forests, lakes, etc. The latter are "Nature Schools"(often situated in a forest) are funded by local municipalities jointly with the state forest district administration. The heads of the "Nature Schools" are specially educated staff (biologists etc). There are 100 schools spread out over Denmark, and they have 1/2 million visitors a year.

  Most museums have dedicated staff dealing with school class visits.

  The providers are not inspected, but do of course have to comply with legislation in any given area to ensure for instance that play areas are constructed in a safe manner, and teachers and providers have to ensure that the safety of the children taking part in such activities is considered as far as this is possible.

  Generally, schools/local government fund outdoor activities, but parents may be asked to contribute a small sum of money for instance to a theatre trip.

  Outdoor activities are left to the teachers to organise, sometimes in conjunction with a specific provider/museum etc. (see above)

  The teachers/leaders involved in providing outdoor learning are not required to have special qualifications or training.

ITALY

  The law of 15 March 1997 granted autonomy to schools in didactic management, financial administration, research activities, experimentation and development. Schools organise lessons to best suit individual school needs, respecting certain parameters. School autonomy allows individual schools to increase the educational offer with optional subjects and activities taking into consideration local cultural, social and economic factors.

  The head teacher manages the school in collaboration with the school council. Various stakeholders are involved in the internal decision making process; school authorities, educational staff, social partners and families. Each school is obliged to prepare and follow a school plan or "POF", piano dell' offerta formativa. The curriculum is set down at a national level.

  Education outside the school is not mandatory and is left up to the discretion of individual schools. Italian schools do not have a strong history of outdoor learning within the curriculum, but that does not mean that it is not done. Indeed the Ministry of Education states that individualplans "may include" school activities which are organised for a group of pupils of the same class, or of different classes, with the aim of carrying out activities related to the needs of pupils.

  The teacher's council within the second month of the school year must present a plan setting down all planned activities. Having said this, teachers are not forbidden in taking a class to a nearby park as they see fit for an outdoor lesson.

  Generally parents must make a financial contribution and must give their permission for any school trips. These trips are covered by the school's insurance.

  Traditionally overnight trips are organised for students in lower secondary school. Once again, parents' consent must be provided and they must also subsidise the trips.

IRELAND

  The provision of "outdoor learning" occurs mostly in secondary schools only. In the first three years of secondary school, referred to as the junior cycle (age 12-15), fieldwork is an integral part of the Geography syllabus. There is an option for pupils to submit a fieldstudy assignment as part of the Junior Certificate examination. The exam papers contain a special section with questions designed to test some of the skills which pupils develop through fieldstudy; this section is intended for those who do not take up the option of submitting a fieldstudy assignment. This is an optional unit and is only taken by a small percentage of students. Within the Science curriculum, field study is optional.

  Physical Education in the Junior Cycle includes adventure activities, aquatics, athletics, dance, net and field games etc. Physical education teachers have the relevant national teaching qualification and if the outdoor learning activity involves a specialised skill such as adventure sports there will be a qualified instructor present. Outdoor activities which take place outside the school grounds would generally take place in approved centres. However these centres are not approved by the schools or the Department of Education, but are approved by the Government or a National body.

  In the Senior Cycle (16-18 yrs), the Geography syllabus consists of a range of core, elective and optional units for study. A geographical investigation, to be completed individually by each candidate, forms a compulsory element of the syllabus. The report on the geographical investigation is submitted in advance of the final written examination.

  Students also have an option to pursue an outdoors education module which is assessed as part of the overall course.

  Developing appropriate linkages between school and the workplace is a growing feature of the senior cycle. Students are involved in organising visits to local business and community enterprises; meet and interview enterprising people on—site and in the classroom; plan and undertake interesting activities that will build self—confidence, creativity, initiative and develop teamwork, communication and computer skills.

  Generally, all outdoor school activities are co-funded by parents and schools and organised by the schools themselves—there is no local/national body involved.

SWEDEN

  Provision of education in Sweden is highly de-centralised. Framework legislation issued at the National level states what targets to reach but leaves great scope for local authorities in deciding how this is to be done. Sweden's 290 municipalities are responsible for provision of childcare, compulsory and upper secondary schooling. Most of the funding for education comes from locally raised income tax.

  The only subject where outdoor/outside the classroom activities are required according to the syllabus is Physical Education (PE). The requirement is not explicit but the syllabus states that the aim of PE is partly to encourage pupils to spend time in nature and to be able to find their way around in nature (demands knowledge of how to use a compass and a map). PE also requires pupils to be able to swim and to have practised life-saving measures around water before leaving compulsory school. Swimming and life-saving around water is usually practised at an in-door swimming pool.

  Other activities may include visits to museums, libraries, zoos, the cinema, the theatre etc. All of this is at the discretion of individual schools and teachers. There is no requirement for visits like these to be carried out.

  There are no separate inspections of outdoor/outside the classroom activities. Schools are however responsible for the supervision of children during school hours and can be held responsible for any accident that occurs throughout the school day. This means that schools must ensure that there are proper routines in place eg regarding any outdoor activities or visits that are carried out. Many municipalities also take out insurance to cover children while at school.

  Education and activities carried out within the framework of pre-school and compulsory school should on principle be free of charge. There is anecdotal evidence of schools in certain areas asking parents to pay for certain activities, such as visits, where parents are able to afford this.

  Any activities taking place within the framework of the curriculum are arranged by the school itself. Teachers who include out-of-the-classroom visits or projects in the teaching of their subjects do not require special training.

  In addition to the outside-the-classroom activities mentioned above, it is common for Swedish children below the age of 10 to attend after-school childcare. These facilities are often located on school premises or in connection with school premises. Municipalities are responsible for ensuring that staff have the proper training to take care of and understand the needs of children at this age. Municipalities must also ensure that the premises used for after-school childcare are appropriate for that purpose and that the sizes of groups are manageable.

NETHERLANDS

  Dutch schools are not required to offer pupils education outside the classroom, but most schools offer out of school experiences such as excursions, visits etc. Most municipalities offer school-garden clubs for 10 year olds. The central government offers school vouchers for cultural activities (actor in classroom, visiting a theatre or a studio etc).

  In addition, out-of-school care is available for schoolchildren aged between four and 13. These centres are open before and after school (and sometimes at lunchtimes), on afternoons or days when there is no school, and during the school holidays. These centres offer leisure activities and facilities for doing homework.

GERMANY

  In Germany responsibility for school education lies with the 16 Laender or regions. This means that in practice there are 16 different school systems which have their own set of rules and regulations on education outside the classroom. It is not possible therefore to give a full picture for the whole of Germany, but the information that follows applies to the situation applying in most Laender.

  There are no out-of-school activities which are compulsory for particular subjects. Class trips, excursions etc take place at the discretion of the school or the individual teachers. Physical education is compulsory in primary as well as secondary school in most Laender.

  All school pupils are automatically covered by accident insurance (provided by the local authorities) during lessons, on the way to and from school and during all school functions or out-of-school activities for which the school is responsible and is providing supervision. This also includes school trips outside Germany.

  Parents have to cover the costs of their children's school excursions (travel, accommodation etc). Accompanying teachers get reimbursed for their expenses by their school or local/Land education authorities. However, due to budgetary constraints several Laender ask their teachers to cover at least part of their expenses.

  All Laender have their own set of rules and regulations for education outside the classroom. North Rhine Westphalia (Germany's largest Land), for example, issued detailed guidelines for school excursions in 1997. The most important elements of these guidelines are as follows:

    —  class trips are integral part of school education;

    —  excursions have to be embedded into the curriculum and have to be prepared in class and assessed afterwards;

    —  schools have overall organisational responsibility and decide whether or not to make use of excursions;

    —  the school conference (in which teachers, parents and pupils are represented) decides on the overall framework for excursions, including on the length and maximum costs. Parents, teachers and pupils have to be given the opportunity to discuss any proposals before the school conference takes a decision;

    —  costs have to be kept at a minimum so that they do not prevent any pupils from taking part;

    —  if class trips exceed two weeks, the extra time has to fall into school holidays;

    —  class teachers make suggestions for the programme, the length of time and the objectives of an excursion. Parents are asked for their opinion and the head teacher decides whether the plans are in line with the school's educational objectives and with the guidelines produced by the school conference. The head teacher also has to check whether there is sufficient funding;

    —  any service contracts with transport, catering or hospitality companies are signed by the school, not by individual teachers;

    —  parents have to produce written confirmation that they will cover the costs of class trips which are taking place over several days, even if their children are 18 years or older;

    —  in order to provide sufficient supervision with larger groups, parents or pupils over the age of 18 may take the place of additional supervisory teachers;

    —  private transport for class trips is not allowed for safety reasons;

    —  there are additional health and safety guidelines for excursions which involve swimming or other activities in water, mountaineering or skiing.

JAPAN

  Out-of-classroom activities are considered an important part of a child's education in Japan. Such activities are conducted by schools mainly through: (1) "tokubetsu katsudo" or "Special Activities" within the school curriculum; (2) sports and cultural clubs carried out at the school; and (3) as part of subject teaching in the school curriculum. Learning opportunities may also be provided independent of schools by local boards of education and private organisations.

Special Activities

  In the elementary and lower secondary curriculum (age 6-15), 35 hours a year (one hour a week) are allocated to "tokubetsu katsudo" or "Special Activities". Special Activities consist of: ceremonies (entrance, graduation, etc), arts/cultural events (cultural festival, etc), physical/health activities (sports festival, etc); outings (school excursions, field trips, longer school trips, etc); and work and volunteer activities.

  Schools are free to devise their own plan according to the available resources although schools will have to work within the regulations and guidelines of the respective local board of education. A board of education, for example, may have a restriction concerning the ages of students allowed to participate in trips involving overnight stays. Before the beginning of the school year, schools have to submit annual plans to their local boards of education, which will include details of their special activities, for approval.

  Parents in Japan are expected to pay for the cost for out-of-school activities such as school trips. Some schools have a monthly payment system for parents to cover such costs. In cases of financial hardship, boards of education can provide financial support to families through special funds for those families on low incomes.

  Evaluation of activities is carried out within school and schools are monitored by their local board of education, which has a supervisory role over the schools in its area.

Sports and Cultural Clubs

  Club activities are an area of great importance in Japanese education. In addition to developing students' interest and skills, club activities give students the opportunity to learn how to act as part of a group and are crucial in developing interpersonal skills, perseverance as well as leadership qualities.

  In elementary education, club activities are limited to students from the 4th to 6th grades (age 9-11). Club activities are not compulsory but students are encouraged to take part in one of the sport or cultural clubs at the school after classes. At the junior high level, some sports clubs meet 4-5 times a week and practices or games may take place at the weekends or in the school holidays. Clubs are supervised by teachers and most teachers are responsible for one of the sports or cultural clubs at their schools. Teachers receive a small allowance for supervising a school club. Some clubs, though, can involve considerable extra work for teachers.

Subject Teaching

  In the Course of Study (national guidelines) for each subject, teachers are encouraged to provide students with experiential learning activities as part of their subject teaching which may occur outside the classroom. The School Education Law in Japan has been revised in recent years to include a stipulation that schools, in carrying out their subject teaching, should seek to cooperate with social education-related organisations to expand and improve experiential learning activities for students.

  Although such activities will vary according to the teacher and the school, out-of-classroom activities may include growing plants at school as part of a science project or looking after a class animal as part of moral education and out-of-school activities may include museum or library trips as part of social science education, field trips to local parks or woodlands as part of science education, and visits to local companies as part of a Period for Integrated Study project.

Local Boards of Education and Private Organisations

  In addition to schools, boards of education and private organisations play a role in providing students with learning activities outside the classroom utilising skilled local people and local facilities. Such learning activities are considered as part of lifelong education in Japan. One example may be an English class offered at the local public hall on Saturdays to students at schools in the area. Another example may be a cultural festival in the local library. Although not directly involved, schools may play a role in promoting such events and cooperating with local organisations.

  On a national level, through a cross-party initiative and with the cooperation of the private sector, the Children's Dream Fund ("Kodomo Yume Kikin") was established to provide grants for children's experiential activities, contributing to the healthy development of young people. Examples of activities include: activities to experience nature such as summer camps; activities to experience community service such as caring for the elderly; and also activities to promote and support children's reading. Again, schools may play a role in promoting and cooperating with the organisations providing these learning opportunities in the local community.

SINGAPORE

  Apart from the formal school curriculum, pupils participate in co-curricular activities (CCAs) which are intended to provide healthy recreation, and instil self-discipline, teamwork and confidence in the pupils. The Ministry of Education, Singapore established The Outdoor Education team in 1999 to provide assistance and guidance to Singapore schools in the planning and implementation of their outdoor education and adventure programmes.

  There is a wide range of CCAs available in schools. Pupils may choose from a variety of sports and games such as track and field events, basketball, tennis or uniformed organisations such as the Red Cross Society and National Police Cadet Corps. They can, alternatively, opt for a cultural activity such as the Military Band, the ethnic dance group or the drama club. Students can also participate in clubs and societies like the Photographic Society, the Computer Club and the Gardening Club.

  Pupils are introduced to CCAs at Primary Four (age 10) and participation is voluntary. At secondary level, they must participate in at least one core CCA.

  Schools compete in a number of co-curricular events at the zonal and national level each year. These include sports events such as track and field, swimming and cross-country. The Singapore Youth Festival is an annual event which showcases the creativity and talent of Singapore students through drama presentations, choral singing, an art and craft exhibition, uniformed group events and sports events.

NEW ZEALAND

  Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) in New Zealand is defined as any curriculum-based activity that takes place outside the school, including museum visits, sport trips, field trips and outdoor education camps

  There is a strong history and culture of outdoor education in New Zealand, with education documents over the past century recognising the educational value of EOTC. By the 1960s most schools offered field trips to students, which increased in frequency throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. However, it has been suggested that there has been a small decline in EOTC in recent years, due to the decentralisation of education in the late 1980s, increasing compliance costs and concerns about liability for student injuries/deaths.

  Schools are not required to offer EOTC, but as a general rule all schools do. The provision of EOTC varies from school to school, and often depends on the teachers' enthusiasm for EOTC.

  EOTC is offered to students of all ages, from early childhood through to secondary school level. Different approaches to EOTC are appropriate for children of different ages—the following is a guideline of the types of EOTC activities that may be offered:

  Ages 3-5: In early childhood centres, the specific EOTC focus is on fieldtrips, which are generally short and frequent with a high ratio of adults to children.

  Years 1-4: EOTC is primarily about exploring the local community within walking distance from the school or accessible by local car, bus or train ride.

  Years 5-6: In addition to the above, EOTC is more likely to involve exploring rural or city environments and possibly involving staying overnight.

  Years 7-8: In addition to the above, exploring bush and water environments within a few hours' walk from a road end or accessible by vehicle.

  Years 9-10: In addition to the above, exploring other towns and cities in New Zealand, back-country areas that take a day or more to get to, using marked tracks and involving staying a few nights.

  Years 11-13: In addition to the above, possibly involving more remote back-country environments or overseas visits.

  At most intermediate (Years 7-8) and secondary schools (Years 9-13), in addition to curriculum extension activities and opportunities for personal development, EOTC includes camping and outdoor pursuits such as canoeing and abseiling, which require tutors with specific skills.





 
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