Boosting engagement with adventures in-school
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Boosting engagement with adventures in-school

Craig Henderson, Learning and Adventure Manager

At Outward Bound, we don't stop in the face of a challenge. We innovate. We adapt. We overcome.

The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 brought brand new challenges, yet our mission never changed. This time last year our centres were closed so we wanted to find a way to use the talents and abilities of our team.

Our plan was simple, if young people couldn’t come to us then we would take our instructors to schools to deliver in-school adventures. So young people were provided the space to have fun and reconnect with each other in their own educational setting.

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We were determined to help young people develop confidence and self-belief, at a time where they needed us more than ever. We knew there were, and still are, concerns around the long-term effects of the pandemic on young people’s life chances, and on their mental health and well-being in particular. The drastic loss of confidence and skills, coupled with heightened anxiety, is interfering with pupils’ ability to engage fully with learning and there are fears that the effects of this will be felt for many years to come. There is absolutely no doubt that young people continue to need support to catch up on lost learning, to prevent significant and long-term wage scarring, but that alone will not give them the skills they need to successfully navigate an increasingly uncertain future.

Having now returned to our residential work we are reflecting on the impact of sending our instructors into schools, and it’s clear they made a significant difference to the wellbeing of young people, helped them to readjust to being back at school, to re-engage with classroom learning and to reconnect with their peers. Time spent outside taking part in planned activities, at or near school created more engaged pupils, space for them to learn from their mistakes and removed any pressure they felt to get things right first time.

We know the deeper and long-lasting impact we can achieve through a residential course has the potential to significantly accelerate young people’s recovery from the effects of the pandemic, but we are acutely aware that this opportunity is not always possible. We also know that outdoor learning in-school also has many benefits, both for individuals and the class as a whole. It improves team working, problem solving, communication and self-esteem. It boosts physical and mental health. And it's a brilliant way to encourage a lifelong love of nature. So although our instructors are now back in centre. Here are our top tips for bringing the outdoors into school.

The children love it, the teachers love it. It's one of the highlights of their week.
Andrew Davies, Head Teacher, Lazonby CE School
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Further Reading