3 Prospects for learning outside the classroom |
12. In our 2005 Report we recommended that a
learning outside the classroom manifesto should be introduced
and that, in order to deliver real change, it should attract a
similar level of funding to the Music Manifesto. The funding that
the Department has in fact allocated to its learning outside the
classroom initiatives was described by one witness as "derisory".
The Music Manifesto originally received £30 million in funding;
around £332 million has been allocated to music education
for 2008-11, with £40 million spent on one initiative aloneSing
Up. Learning outside the classroom, relevant across the whole
of the curriculum, has, since 2005, received £4.5 million,
£2.5 million of which was to support a single residential
initiative. The Council
itself, responsible for taking forward the Manifesto pledges,
is operating on approximately £150,000 a year, with an additional
£500,000 this year for projects.
This core funding is due to end in 2011. Our witnesses were frustrated
that the Department had handed responsibility for learning outside
the classroom to the Council, but had not given the Council adequate
funding to do the job required.
13. On current funding levels, our witnesses
could not see how the Quality Badge scheme could continue. In
our 2005 Report we noted that the bureaucracy associated with
school trips and visits was a significant deterrent to providing
such opportunities. We learnt of instances where teachers were
filling in 16 forms per trip.
The Quality Badge has the potential to lessen this problem: having
got the Badge, a provider would be underwritten in relation to
their health and safety provision being adequate. It was further
suggested to us that the Quality Badge also challenges providers
to raise their game in terms of the learning opportunities that
they provide. Comprising a self-evaluation process and inspection,
the accreditation process was felt to be robust and worthwhile
for all concerned. Yet, it would appear that awareness of the
Council and the Quality Badge among schools remains poor. Given
the funding and effort that providers of learning outside the
classroom experiences must put into gaining accreditation, this
lack of awareness threatens the sustainability of the Quality
Badge scheme. A total of 526 Quality Badges have been awarded
so faragainst the thousands that were envisaged and that
would be necessary to establish the scheme as self-supporting.
Andy Simpson explained:
...we're in this dreadful Catch-22 situation, where
it's a lot of effort and expense on the part of the providers
to get the Badge, but unless the schools are actually recognising
the Badge's significance, [providers are] not going to do it.
... We have a very valuable initiative here that would make life
so much easier for schools and the sadness is that they don't
know about it.
The Quality Badge accreditation stands for two years,
which means that the 'early adopter' organisations will need to
renew their accreditation within just 11 months. Andy Simpson
noted that there will be little incentive for them to do so where
having the Badge has made little or no difference to their take
14. At present, our witnesses suggested, the
NGO sector is effectively subsidising learning outside the classroomin
some cases "to the tune of millions of pounds".
The RSPB estimates that its own learning outside the classroom
operations have incurred net costs of £3 million since 2005.
The RSPB has 19 centres that hold the Quality Badge; it estimates
that its involvement in the Quality Badge scheme has cost £100,000
15. 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.
School Trips And Visits
16. Maintained schools are not permitted to charge
for any activities within the school day other than musical instrument
lessons, and even then only in certain circumstances. They are
allowed to request voluntary contributions and to point out to
parents that trips and other activities will not take place if
sufficient contributions are not received.
The NASUWT believes that this places undue pressure on parents,
particularly those on low incomes.
Ofsted found that, due to similar concerns, schools can be reluctant
to ask parents to contribute too much too often.
The English Outdoor Council argues that parental contributions
are quite acceptable, providing that there is provision for those
young people whose parents cannot afford to contribute. There
are funds available at school and local authority level, including
the Extended Services Disadvantage Subsidy. Deciding how to use
these funds, the English Outdoor Council suggests, is largely
a question of local priorities.
Some schools cover the costs of visits through the school budget
17. Our witnesses were particularly concerned
about the access that pupils from low-income families have to
school trips and visits; for these children school provision may
be the only opportunity they have to experience different environments
from their immediate locality. Andy Simpson commented:
...in order to have the kind of informed and engaged
citizens we would all like to emerge from the school system, it
is not unreasonable to identify a range of experiencessome
cultural, some environmental, some adventurousthat go towards
making that rounded and engaged citizen. Obviously, the role of
the family in providing those opportunities is the first port
of call and is pivotal, but as a society we have to ask ourselves:
are these things important enough that we leave them to a random
chance that if the family does not provide them, the schools may
or may not provide them?
Research has shown that the higher the levels of
pupils eligible for Free School Meals, the lower the number of
trips and visits offered (at Key Stage 3). The same study also
found that the opportunities for learning outside the classroom
offered by schools serving less affluent areas tended to be narrower
in scope than those run by other schoolsrestricted to the
local area, and linked into vocational provision.
18. A notable example of provision for schools
and pupils in less affluent areas has been the 'New Views' project,
through which the Department funded residential courses as part
of the London Challenge initiative. These courses offered a wide
variety of residential experiences for Key Stage 3 pupils, "from
exploring the glacial landscapes of Snowdonia, to canoeing in
the Lake District, or from meeting the Tudors in Stratford to
enjoying Eco Adventure in County Fermanagh". The courses
aimed to "balance curriculum needs with the wider benefits
of a residential experience: personal and social development and
The 2009 evaluation of the project reported that the overwhelming
feedback from teachers, senior managers, parents and carers and
the pupils themselves was very positive; teachers observed a whole
range of benefits and impacts for their pupils.
It was suggested to us that this funding model might usefully
be spread across all secondary schools. The RSPB has put forward
a 'safety net' model, based on the Free School Meals model, that
would ensure that every child had access to one quality learning
outside the classroom experience a year. It estimates that this
would cost £40 million.
19. Learning outside the classroom
must not become only the preserve of pupils from more affluent
backgrounds or from the independent schools sectorall 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.
School frameworks and accountability
20. Some of our witnesses called for learning
outside the classroom to be made an entitlement within the National
Curriculum. In their view, this would be the only way to ensure
that all schools took such provision seriously, and that learning
outside the classroom moved from being merely an "add on"
or "luxury" to sitting at the heart of the curriculum.
21. Learning outside the classroom is promoted
in various National Curriculum-related materials from the Qualifications
and Curriculum Development Agency (e.g. A Big Picture of the
However, this is not reflected in the subject-level documentation.
As Anthony Thomas remarked: "Putting it in a diagram is one
thing, but actually looking at how you then help teachers to face
up to it across all the subject areas ... is quite a challenge".
22. Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the
Association of Teachers and Lecturers, questioned the feasibility
of integrating learning outside the classroom activity within
what she regarded as a highly regulated and highly assessed curriculum.
John Morgan, President of the Association of School and College
Leaders, was more optimistic, suggesting that the new primary
and secondary curriculum frameworks offered greater scope for
creativity and for time outside the classroom.
These witnesses were clear that, if it is to be prioritised by
schools, learning outside the classroom needs to be valued within
the wider school accountability system. This was said to currently
be overly focused on the written word.
23. 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
24. 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.
25. We recommend that Ofsted
include learning outside the classroom provisionas part
of the curriculumin its inspection framework, and that
the Department include pupils' access to such activities in the
School Report Card.
26. 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
Guidance and leadership
Health and safety
27. Our previous Report called on the Department
to work with the teacher unions and schools to ensure that teachers
did not feel vulnerable to vexatious litigation.
28. Anthony Thomas was of the view that, compared
to just a few years ago, there is a much greater emphasis now
on encouraging a sensible exposure to risk: as long as it is effectively
managed, it is viewed as an extra way of helping young people
to develop and manage their safety.
We were also told that successful litigation by parents relating
to school trips is relatively rare. Research by the Countryside
Alliance found that, across 138 local authorities, between 1998
and 2008 there were 364 legal claims made as a result of children
injured on school trips. Fewer than half resulted in successful
payouts. The average amount of compensation paid out per local
authority per year was £293.
29. Nevertheless, fear of litigation remains
an important factor in deterring teachers from organising trips
and visits. In a separate survey, the Countryside Alliance found
that health and safety concerns were still the main barrier to
learning outside the classroom for 76% of teachers.
It was suggested to us that, among school leaders, health and
safety is sometimes used as an excuse rather than a reason for
not offering trips or practical work.
The Department is yet to publish its promised revised guidance
on health and safety and risk assessment.
30. 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.
31. The National Agreement on Raising Standards
and Tackling Workload, published 2003, introduced into the School
Teachers' Pay and Conditions Document a series of contractual
changes designed to reduce teachers' workload. These included
the stipulation that teachers should not provide classroom cover
for absent colleagues on a routine basis.
32. From 2004, the amount of time a teacher could
be asked to provide cover for was set at 38 hours a year. By September
2008, all schools were expected to have set a more challenging
target. This would serve as a 'stepping stone' to the minimal
cover levels required from September 2009known as the 'rarely
cover' provisions. Other options for covering a teacher's absence
include the use of supply teachers, 'floating teachers', teaching
assistants, or cover supervisors.
33. We noted the potential impact of these provisions
on access to learning outside the classroom in our 2005 Report.
More recently, we became concerned at the growing anecdotal evidence
that the shift to 'rarely cover' would present a more marked threat
in this respect.
34. Guidance on the 'rarely cover' provisions
includes a section on learning outside the classroom that is designed
to help schools plan effectively for these activities. The guidance
states: "Learning outside the classroom is an important part
of the curriculum and provision for it should be included in school
calendars and timetables. Appropriate arrangements should be included
in the timetable for both the staff and pupils who will be participating
in learning outside the classroom and for those who are not. ...it
is the absence of the person who has been timetabled to take the
class or group that is the trigger for cover".
35. Our witnesses stated that there was evidence
of learning outside the classroom being cancelled due to the 'rarely
cover' provisionseven where bookings had been made well
in advance and cover could therefore have been arranged. The Field
Studies Council has 17 centres in the UK, most of them in England.
It reported that all of them have experienced a significant reduction
in bookings and an increase in cancellations, which it attributed
to 'rarely cover'. Robert Lucas, Chief Executive of the Field
Studies Council, also noted that teachers who are very committed
to learning outside the classroom were finding themselves pressured
to go during holidays and at weekends in order to work around
36. The 'rarely cover' provisions have also impacted
on teachers' access to professional development during school
hours. In recent oral evidence to the Committee on the teaching
of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects,
John Holman, Director of the National Science Learning Centre,
It has always been a challenge to get head teachers
to understand the importance of teachers coming out of school,
but it has been harder than ever this year. That has affected
our ability to operate. We do not yet know whether that is because
head teachers were zealous in their interpretation of the new
'rarely cover' regulations at the beginning of the year, and pragmatism
will set in. We are monitoring that, but we are very worried about
Attendance at training run by the National Science
Learning Centre is reported to be down 25% since September, enquiries
about specialist courses promoted by the National Centre for Excellence
in the Teaching of Mathematics to have dropped by half.
37. Our witnesses were clear that these outcomes
are unintended consequences of the 'rarely cover' provisionsand
that they stem not from the principle of the provisions, but from
some schools' difficulties in taking forward much more detailed
forward planning, or from the way in which some school leaders
are choosing to interpret them. As the NASUWT observed:
['rarely cover'] will require a degree of discipline
within schools to plan carefully, to seek to anticipate teaching
and learning requirements and deployment priorities across the
year, and to do so in greater detail than perhaps many schools
have done previously.
As Sir Mike Tomlinson explained:
There are signs that...'rarely cover' is proving
to be a matter of concernnot the concept of it, but the
way in which it is being interpreted in some schools. In some
schools, 'rarely cover' means "never cover". In some
cases, heads are using it as a means of...stopping staff from
being out during term time.
38. John Morgan outlined the way in which some
schools were managing to accommodate learning outside the classroom
in the context of rarely cover:
...you will find schools where, for example, every
second Friday, the timetable is a block timetable for the school,
or you might find a school that has...larger blocks on their timetable.
They don't have 45-minute lessons or one-hour lessons; they have
a morning lesson and an afternoon lesson. ... When you have that
sort of system set up in your school, rarely cover ain't a problem,
because if you [need] a large group to go out and you have a large
group of teachers assigned to teach them, they all go out together
and the rest of the school carries on as normal.
39. Our witnesses suggested that better guidance
and leadership were required to resolve the 'teething problems'
evident elsewhere. Sir Mike Tomlinson regarded "efficient
and sensible" guidance as "the real missing element",
and believed that the teacher unions "[had] a job to do"
in communicating with school leaders to ensure that 'rarely cover'
is used for its original intentions, not as an excuse to cut back
on opportunities for pupils or teachers.
40. 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
Champions For Learning Outside The Classroom
41. In our 2005 Report we called on the Department
to put in place champions of learning outside the classroom at
all levels. We called for a dedicated team within the Department
with responsibility for outdoor learning across curriculum areas.
Our witnesses noted that champions were appointed, but that they
took on the role on a part-time basis and have not had a sufficiently
42. It was put to us that the lack of champions,
within the Department and nationally, was one explanation for
the relatively limited funding to date for learning outside the
classroom. The Music Manifesto has benefited from having a strong
lobby and high profile supporters. It has also benefited from
having a more targeted message. By contrast, as outlined earlier,
the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom covers 10 diverse
areas. Promoting all of them under a single umbrella is a difficult
43. Learning outside the classroom
has a range of potential supporters and powerful lobby groups
to draw onthe 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.
44. 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.
Teacher professional development
45. To get the most out of it, learning outside
the classroom must be led by staff who are well trained in this
area. In 2005 we
asked the Department to review the place of outdoor education
within initial teacher training programmes.
46. The Field Studies Council and the RSPB were
frustrated with what they saw as the still inadequate coverage
of learning outside the classroom within initial teacher training.
All initial teacher training is shaped by the Training and Development
Agency for Schools standards for Qualified Teacher Status. The
relevant standard specifies that trainees should demonstrate their
ability to "Establish a purposeful and safe learning environment
conducive to learning and identify opportunities for learners
to learn in out-of-school contexts". The related guidance
states that "trainees should be able to identify opportunities
for children and young people to learn in the school grounds and
in out-of-school contexts such as museums, theatres, field centres
and work settings".
The Field Studies Council suggests that this standard is "weak",
and that, while some providers of initial teacher training include
a two or three day residential in their training, some trainee
science teachers receive no training in this area at all.
It would like to see the existing standard replaced with the following
requirements: that each trainee teacher, as part of their initial
training (1) attend and have an active role in a school visit;
(2) plan and lead a lesson with pupils outside the classroom;
(3) receive at least four hours of training in out of classroom
47. Evidence to the Committee's inquiry into
teacher training pointed to the limited coverage that one-year
initial teacher training programmes give to all aspects of teaching
practice, including the fundamentals of subject knowledge and
assessment. As Sir
Mike Tomlinson remarked: "I think it would be unfair to single
out initial teacher training [to cover learning outside the classroom].
It is, of its nature, a short experience of 36 weeks." Sir
Mike called instead for "a much more coherent approach through
teacher training through the first two years of teaching, to ensure
that there is a gradual build-up of experience and expertise,
such that teachers become well equipped to take on this work".
48. Initial teacher training providers can place
trainees in settings other than schools, so long as the setting
enables the trainee to demonstrate his/her competence against
the standards for Qualified Teacher Status and be supported to
that end. The Department supports the 'Teaching Outside the Classroom'
scheme, which encourages the development of placements for trainee
teachers in settings other than schools. These can be anything
from museums and galleries to city farms or environmental centres.
Launched in 2008, the programme was developed by the Department
and learning outside the classroom partners, the Training and
Development Agency for School, Creative Partnerships, CapeUK,
and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. It has a ladder
of progression for the development of non-school placements:
- Integration within a provider's
course structurewhereby setting staff deliver lectures,
workshops and seminars to trainees.
- The enhancement modelwhereby
trainees complete short placements in these settings in addition
to their school placements.
- The embedded modelwhereby
trainees complete part of their placements in one of these settings
instead of only in schools; placements are formalised, quality
assured and assessed, and setting staff will have been trained
as mentors by partner initial teacher training providers. These
placements must run for a minimum of one week and include at least
half a day of direct teaching.
Such provision offers an important opportunity for
trainees to build their confidence in relation to learning outside
the classroom. At
present, just 42 separate providers of initial teacher training
participate in this scheme. Our witnesses noted that offering
placements in settings other than schools was a significant undertaking
for providers of initial teacher training.
49. 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.
50. 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.
20 Q 8 (Robert Gray); Q 20 (Sir Mike Tomlinson) Back
Q 20 (Anthony Thomas); Ev 3, paragraph 3 (RSPB) Back
Q 20 (Anthony Thomas) Back
Q 29 (Robert Gray); see also, written evidence from the English
Outdoor Council (LOC 02) Back
Education and Skills Committee, Second Report of Session 2004-05,
Education Outside the Classroom, HC 120, paragraph 30. Back
Written evidence from the Adventure Activities Industry Advisory
Committee (LOC 09) Back
Q 5 (Andy Simpson). See also, Q 1 (Anthony Thomas); written evidence
from the Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee (LOC
09); Ofsted, Learning outside the classroom: how far should you
go?, October 2008. Back
Q 5 Back
Q 5 (Andy Simpson) Back
Ev 4, paragraph 4 Back
Written evidence from the English Outdoor Council (LOC 02) Back
Ev 19, paragraph 12 Back
Ofsted, Learning outside the classroom: how far should you go?,
October 2008. Back
Written evidence from the English Outdoor Council (LOC 02) Back
Ofsted, Learning outside the classroom: how far should you go?,
October 2008. Back
Q 17 (Andy Simpson) Back
Power, S. et al, Out-of-school learning: variations in provision
and participation in secondary schools, Research Papers in Education,
Tilling, S. and Amos, R., New Views: lessons learned from the
London Challenge residential courses, June 2009. Back
Q 28 (Andy Simpson) Back
Q 8 (Robert Gray); Ev 1 (Countryside Alliance); Ev 18 (Field Studies
Council); written evidence from the English Outdoor Council (LOC
See www.qcda.gov.uk Back
Q 15. See also, Ev 4, paragraph 7 (RSPB) Back
Q 50 Back
Q 60 Back
Q 50 (Dr Mary Bousted) Back
Q 25; see also, written evidence from the English Outdoor Council
(LOC 02) Back
Q 25 (Robert Gray) Back
Q 25 (Robert Gray). See also, O'Donnell, L., Education outside
the classroom: an assessment of activity and practice in Schools
and local authorities, DCSF Research Report 803, November 2006. Back
Qq 27, 37 (Sir Mike Tomlinson) Back
"More help for teachers to organise school trips", DCSF
press release 2009/0209, 6 November 2009. Back
WAMG, Guidance on 'rarely cover', September 2009, paragraphs 73-75. Back
Q 35. See also, Ev 17 (Field Studies Council) Back
Oral evidence taken before the Children, Schools and Families
Committee on 3 February 2010 HC (2009-10) 340, Q 54. See also,
written evidence from the Royal Geographical Society (LOC 08). Back
'Rarely cover rules see maths and science training collapse',
TES, 19 February 2010. Back
Ev 23, paragraph 47 Back
Q 4 Back
Q 57 Back
Qq 36-37 Back
Q 20 (Anthony Thomas) Back
See Q 23 (Andy Simpson) Back
Q 12 (Anthony Thomas) Back
TDA, QTS standards and ITT requirements guidance, 2008. Back
Ev 17 (Field Studies Council) Back
Ev 3 (Field Studies Council). See also, Ev 4, paragraph 5 (RSPB),
written evidence from the Association for Science Education (LOC
Children, Schools and Families Committee, Fourth Report of Session
2009-10, Training of Teachers, HC 275-I Back
Q 39 Back
See Q 44 (Anthony Thomas) Back
Q 45 (Anthony Thomas) Back