Here’s more news from Natural England by way of relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items from the UK and abroad, with a focus on schools, education and learning. This supports the Strategic Research Network for People and Nature to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.
Adaptive school grounds design in response to COVID-19: Findings from six primary schools in South East England
A Quinn, A Russo – Building and Environment
- The ratio of outdoor space per pupil (OSPP) varies considerably between schools.
- Average OSPP in urban schools is 32 m2, while rural schools have 43 m2.
- Position of buildings within site influences ease of divisibility.
- More complex, divisible outdoor spaces enable multiple simultaneous uses.
- Open, uncomplex design may limit opportunities for outdoor learning and play.
Gone Rogue: Re-wilding Education in Alternative Outdoor Learning Environments
T Gray, P Bailey – Chapter in Contemporary Approaches to Outdoor Learning
This chapter outlines ways in which re-wilding our classrooms with sensory rich outdoor activities and risk-taking experiences, can offer a potent vehicle for reflection and transformative learning. This pedagogical approach builds resilience, a sense of belonging, communication skills and critical thinking. We conclude outdoor learning undertaken in wilderness settings can be regarded as a superfood for alternative education settings.
How do schoolchildren perceive litter? Overlooked in urban but not in natural environments
D De Veer et al – Journal of Environmental Psychology
- Cognition and perception of anthropogenic litter by schoolchildren was examined.
- Hand-drawn maps of urban environments had almost no litter.
- Drawings of natural beach environments had many litter items
- Litter items were perceived negatively in both environments.
- Our findings suggest the phenomenon of “litter blindness” in urban contexts.
Conclusion: Love in a Time of Pandemics
R Cutting, R Passy – Chapter in Contemporary Approaches to Outdoor Learning
This chapter concludes with a review of the new approaches outlined in the volume in the context of pandemic recovery. In the same way that certain world leaders are calling for the post-pandemic build-back to be focussed on the environmental agenda, it argues that we will need to build-back new curricula that share those aims
‘A Sea of Men’: Supporting Men as Fathers Through Outdoor Learning Experiences
I Blackwell – Chapter in Contemporary Approaches to Outdoor Learning
This chapter explores how outdoor learning practitioners might begin to address issues of hegemonic masculinity which remain prevalent in society and within the sector. The chapter focuses on fathers who attend dads’ group activities in two Forest School settings in the UK and analyses how the six female staff in this study sensitively manage masculinities in the field.
Community gardens as local learning environments in social housing contexts: participant perceptions of enhanced wellbeing and community connection
T Gray, D Tracey, S Truong, K Ward – The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
This paper reports on the findings of a research study that explored broader impacts of a community gardening programme on 42 adult residents living in social housing estates in Sydney, Australia. Perceived benefits included enhanced awareness of their overall health and wellbeing, new interest in growing fresh food, enjoyment of shared produce and recipes, feelings of happiness, frequent socialisation and community connectedness. The findings highlight the impactful role of community gardens as effective local learning environments that promote psychological wellbeing and community connection in underserved communities.
Transformations of children’s environmental conceptions through their participation in a school kitchen-garden project
S Petrou, K Korfiatis – Environmental Education Research
In the present study we focus on 8-9 years old children environmental conceptions and how they were affected by their participation in a school kitchen-garden project. Following a socio-constructivist approach, we asked from 24 children to construct three-dimensional (3 D) representations of the ‘environment’, using miniatures of biotic and abiotic elements (e.g. plants, animals, rocks), humans and human constructions and equipment (e.g. buildings, roads, bins). The analysis showed that aesthetic and “light” utilitarian perspectives were dominant in participants’ conceptualizations, as well as a stewardship connection with nature. It also turned out to be that, for most of the participants, the participation in a school kitchen-garden project enhanced a more realistic and at the same time, more relational representation of the ‘environment’.
Universal Design for Learning-A framework for inclusion in Outdoor Learning
O Kelly, K Buckley, LJ Lieberman, K Arndt – Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education
This article proposes the application of the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework for promoting inclusion in outdoor learning in primary school settings.. Yet this paper is not concerned only with outdoor learning, but with the inclusion of all learners in outdoor learning, through enactment of the curriculum in mainstream schooling. UDL is underpinned by three principles: multiple means of engagement, representation, expression and action. Two vignettes are shared to illustrate how these principles can be applied to outdoor learning in a meaningful and sustained way.
Effects of Nature (Greenspace) on Cognitive Functioning in School Children and Adolescents: a Systematic Review
DA Vella-Brodrick, K Gilowska – Educational Psychology Review
This paper provides a PRISMA-guided systematic review of the literature examining the effects of nature interventions on the cognitive functioning of young people aged 5 to 18 years. Examples of nature interventions include outdoor learning, green playgrounds, walks in nature, plants in classrooms and nature views from classroom windows. These can vary in duration and level of interaction (passive or active). Experimental and quasi-experimental studies with comparison groups that employed standardized cognitive measures were selected.