The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) has been working with University College, London (UCL) and Just Giving, with funding from the Blagrave Trust, to review the effectiveness of outdoor learning for children and young people in the UK.

Andy Robinson, CEO of IOL, says that the ensuing report shows that using the outdoors for personal development and learning really does make a difference:

“This report is a call to providers of outdoor learning to get better at explaining why and how what they do works, to researchers to join up more with those providers, and for the whole sector to agree a research agenda to strengthen the evidence for more outdoor learning.

Those who work in it have long believed in the power of learning and developing outdoors.  … [and this]  review has concluded that yes, almost all interventions in the outdoors have a positive effect and that longer interventions are better than shorter.”

The review team considered over 3500 papers from the past 10 years of research and evaluation into the effectiveness of different forms of outdoor learning.  It showed that the wide range of different ways in which children and young people benefit from learning and development outdoors has led to limited evidence of effectiveness in any one activity.  It was also apparent that many different descriptions were used for similar activity making it difficult for funders, commissioners and policy makers to effectively draw on the potential of the sector.

We think that this is a report that everyone involved in environmental education needs to read, although our President’s blog takes a less welcoming view.  The report can be downloaded from IOL’s website.