This is the latest update from Natural England in relation to Nature & Schools; Learning & Development.

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Psychological benefits of a biodiversity-focussed outdoor learning program for primary school children
DJ Harvey et al – Journal of Environmental Psychology
This investigation sought to discover whether engaging school children with nature could produce sustained improvements in mood and wellbeing in the long-term. Participation in a program produced significant improvements in children’s mood and wellbeing, which were sustained across the academic year. Improvements in wellbeing were not found in a control sample of children who did not take part in the activities. Children with initially lower feelings of connection to nature became more connected over the course of their participation.

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Using outdoor learning to augment social and emotional learning (SEL) skills in young people with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties (SEBD)
Price – Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
Research on the benefits of outdoor learning has generally not focused on students with social, emotional, and behavioral disorders (SEBD). This study addressed this concern through the implementation and evaluation of an outdoor intervention program designed specifically for students with SEBD. Results of the teacher-researcher’s ethnography showed outdoor learning to be beneficial.

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Designing activating schoolyards: Seen from the girls’ viewpoint
Pawlowski et al – Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
What would encourage girls to be more active during recess? Fifty girls from five different schools in Denmark participated in interviews about factors influencing their physical activity during recess. While most of the girls were not interested in sports facilities, they still wanted to be active. In discussing greenery as one important factor, they preferred secluded places and places with grassy areas, trees, and bushes.

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An Ecology of Environmental Education
S Jagger – Chapter in Handbook of Theory and Research in Cultural Studies and Education
This chapter looks into well-worn and accepted meanings, around Environmental Education from the early nineteenth-century movements integrating place-based nature study since John Dewey through conservation and outdoor education, the tensions in the historical realization of the field are traced. A critique of the social manifestations, political purposes, and philosophical grounding of environmental education is developed in relation to (1) shifts in the definition of its terms; (2) conceptual transformations of the discipline; (3) ecological issues; and (4) pedagogical imperatives.

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Investigating the process of learning for school pupils on residential outdoor education courses
R Scrutton – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
Pupils’ process of learning on residential outdoor education courses is perceived by some  researchers as a linear one in which learning takes place in the social affective domain followed by the academic affective domain and then, depending on course objectives, the cognitive domain. Other researchers envisage a non-linear process, akin to soft complexity. These theses are investigated with reference to the objectives of different course types and it is concluded that while individual pupils learn in a complex way, outcomes at the level of the group and/or course appear to be linearly related.

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A retrospective study of the importance of a mandatory outdoor experience program at university
A Meilleur et al – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
The purpose of this study was to provide insight into alumnis’ perspectives of the importance of their participation in a mandatory outdoor experience programme (MOEP). Group bonding, learning, lifestyle, nature, challenge, memories, enjoyment, leadership, growth, confidence, and career were identified as themes in participant responses. Logistic regression analysis revealed group bonding to be significantly important during life as a student, and lifestyle was significantly important in life after graduation.

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Real foliage plants as visual stimuli to improve concentration and attention in elementary students
Oh, Kim & Park – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
An experimental study conducted with 23 children investigated the physiological and psychological impact of viewing green foliage plants. EEG readings showed that the viewing of living plants prompted improvements in attention and concentration. Surveys results indicated that the children felt more comfortable viewing the actual plant than an artificial plant, photograph of a plant, and no plant.

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A Direction for Outdoor and Environmental Education: Assessing and Addressing UNECE Capacities for Preservice Teachers
E Sperling, D Hoeg, DD Karrow – Chapter in Environmental and Sustainability Education in Teacher Education
This chapter discusses the development, delivery, and outcomes of an Outdoor and Environmental Education course in Brock University’s Teacher Education programme. We share samples of student products, along with their anecdotal and formal reflections on course participation. We also include a reimagining of the course, based on research presented by Karrow et al. (2016). These recommendations include analysing the course through the competency categorisations of Learning to know, Learning to do, Learning to live together, and Learning to be, which were presented as a framework for educators in education for sustainable development.

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Muddy knees and muddy needs: parents’ perceptions of outdoor learning
J Traunter, KJ Parsons – Children’s Geographies
The results of this paper indicate a significant disconnect in parent and teacher perceptions related to the purpose and opportunities for learning outdoors. These findings have a range of important implications for early childhood educators, parents and others looking to promote the outdoors as a learning environment across the foundation stage.

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Outdoor Learning in Early Childhood
KS Barfod, P Bentsen, MP Stevenson – Chapter in Encyclopedia of Teacher Education
The impact of nature and the outdoors on a child’s development begins within the first year of life. Once information reaches a young child’s brain, it is processed through a series of cognitive systems that are experiencing rapid development, through a “use it or lose it” process known as synaptic pruning. The strengthening of neural circuitry during these early stages will lay the foundation that ultimately determines how well children function at school, how they interact with peers, and ultimately, what they can achieve in life.