Transforming Education Outside the Classroom - Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  Learning outside the classroom is important, and the Department must provide adequate funding to achieve maximum impact. We see no reason for the very marked differential in funding levels between the Music Manifesto and the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, and request that the Department provide an explanation for the discrepancy. We believe that the allocation of a comparatively small sum would make an enormous difference to learning outside the classroom, and call on the Department to look again at the resources it has provided for the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and the Quality Badge scheme. (Paragraph 15)

2.  Learning outside the classroom must not become only the preserve of pupils from more affluent backgrounds or from the independent schools sector—all children should have opportunities to experience environments away from their local area, and to visit museums and galleries and other sites of interest, including the natural environment of the English countryside. We call on the Department to ensure that families' ability to pay is not a deterrent to schools offering or pupils participating in school trips and visits. We commend to the Department the principle of subsidies for children from low-income families for school trips. (Paragraph 19)

3.  We are of the view that, to ensure that learning outside the classroom is taken seriously by all schools, there should be an individual entitlement within the National Curriculum to at least one out of school visit a term. (Paragraph 23)

4.  The Department and the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency must ensure that the importance of such provision is indicated systematically throughout curriculum-related frameworks and materials. (Paragraph 24)

5.  We recommend that Ofsted include learning outside the classroom provision—as part of the curriculum—in its inspection framework, and that the Department include pupils' access to such activities in the School Report Card. (Paragraph 25)

6.  The Department should monitor the number and range of learning outside the classroom activities provided by schools. Analysis should include a breakdown by category of school and the socio-economic characteristics of the pupils taking part. (Paragraph 26)

7.  The delay in getting revised health and safety guidance in place is disappointing. We urge the Department to publish this guidance at the earliest opportunity. Without a further drive to both ease concerns about litigation and root out the use of health and safety as an excuse for curtailing provision, the effort and funding that has been put into promoting learning outside the classroom will be wasted. (Paragraph 30)

8.  We were impressed by the way in which some schools had found it possible to accommodate the 'rarely cover' provisions through, for example, the reorganisation of the school timetable. We were disappointed to learn that some school leaders seem to be interpreting the 'rarely cover' provisions as an excuse to prevent pupils and teachers from being out of school during the school day. We call on the Department and the teacher unions to provide stronger leadership on this matter and to assist schools in planning their provision in the context of 'rarely cover'. (Paragraph 40)

9.  Learning outside the classroom has a range of potential supporters and powerful lobby groups to draw on—the science lobby in the universities, celebrity environmentalists, and the farming lobby, to name a few. The sector requires champions who are committed to promoting the educational and social benefits of learning outside the classroom. These champions are limited in what they can achieve without the back-up of sufficient resourcing of related initiatives, learning outside the classroom being made an entitlement within the National Curriculum and being covered in school inspections. (Paragraph 43)

10.  We believe that each school should have an explicit policy on learning outside the classroom, covering both the educational and health and safety aspects of this provision. Schools should appoint a suitably trained learning outside the classroom co-ordinator to deliver the policy. (Paragraph 44)

11.  Learning outside the classroom supports pupils' learning and development. It has the potential to enrich and enliven teaching across all subjects. Teachers need to be exposed to learning outside the curriculum from early on in their career, and this should not be left to chance. We expect to see a clearer and more consistent presence for learning outside the classroom across initial teacher training and early career and ongoing professional development for teachers. (Paragraph 49)

12.  We welcome the 'Teaching Outside the Classroom' scheme. We call on the Department and the Training and Development Agency for Schools to monitor take up of the scheme among providers of initial teacher training and to address any barriers to their participation. (Paragraph 50)

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