Here’s more evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items.  This supports the Strategic Research Network for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas:

International perspectives on Forest School: Natural spaces to play and learn
Editor Sarah Knight – Book
This book draws together a range of outdoor practices from around the world. There are a range of chapters covering various topics relevant to Forest School.

The Changing World of Outdoor Learning in Europe – European reflections
Book – Edited By Peter Becker, Barbara Humberstone, Chris Loynes, Jochem Schirp
The Changing World of Outdoor Learning in Europe sets out to provide a comprehensive analysis of the economical and political changes that have occurred in European outdoor culture in the preceding two decades, from a diverse range of perspectives including institutional, theoretical, national and educational views. The book looks at how outdoor education has been transformed into an increasingly global field where established and influenced practices have been introduced into modernising and democratising nations.

Laying Down a Path in Walking: Student Teachers’ Emerging Ecological Identities
DS Gray, L Colucci-Gray – Environmental Education Research
This paper presents the results of an exploratory study on the experiences of a group of first year undergraduate student teachers enrolled in a newly introduced course on outdoor learning. Findings point to important implications for curriculum and pedagogy, promoting environmental consciousness in formal teacher education contexts.

Don’t ask how outdoor education can be integrated into the school curriculum; ask how the school curriculum can be taught outside the classroom
K Barfod, P Bentsen – Curriculum Perspectives
In recent years, teaching and learning in out-of-school contexts has received increased attention in industrialised countries. Correspondingly, research has reported how pupils profit not only on curricular means, but also on social, personal, and physical levels (Becker et al. 2017). The Scandinavian countries are often considered as pioneers when it comes to school-based education outside the classroom (EOtC). There are multiple examples of good practices in relation to school and preschool education in Denmark, mainly due to a long history and strong outdoor tradition. Nevertheless, it is still mostly at the initiative of the individual teacher that pupils are taught outside the classroom, rather than it being a school policy issue, as only about one fifth of all schools have one or more classes performing regular EOtC.

Outdoor learning: not new, just newly important
T Gray – Curriculum Perspectives
Bert Horwood’s observation: “schooling is inordinately absorbed with information; information which was often dated, usually irrelevant to students and unavoidably ephemeral”  chimes with more recent comment  such as a teacher on Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Radio Conversations program who relayed her frustrated message: “I’m more valuable as an assessor, an examiner, a data collector”. Collectively, these two statements hit a truth bell.

The Hare and the Tortoise go to Forest School: Taking the scenic route to academic attainment via emotional wellbeing outdoors
McCree, Cutting & Sherwin – Early Child Development and Care
Eleven economically- and emotionally-disadvantaged children with special education needs attended weekly Forest School sessions over three years. Though causality cannot be claimed, the children made major gains in well-being and academic development, including in self-regulation, resilience, confidence in learning, and academic attainment. They also showed increased connection to nature.

Children’s Rights and the Environment
T Kaime – Chapter in International Human Rights of Children
This chapter offers critical analysis on the normative basis for articulating children’s environment-related rights as well as the key pathways to expanding the core content and scope for such rights. Recognizing that a healthy environment is a prerequisite to the enjoyment of all rights, it is crucial to focus attention on the environmental dimensions of children’s rights so that the role that children’s rights frameworks can play in managing environmental quality is strengthened.

Discussing Nature, ‘Doing’ Nature: For an emancipatory approach to conceptualizing young people’s access to outdoor green space
Von Benzon – Geoforum
While participating in active nature engagement activities, students with learning impairments shifted their understanding of nature as something abstract and “out there” to a space where they can play and relax and have their needs and desires met. The appeal for these students was not on the environment itself, but rather on the affordances presented by the physical environment.

Evaluating connection to nature and the relationship with conservation behaviour in children
J Hughes, M Richardson, R Lumber – Journal for Nature Conservation
This study interrogates Cheng et al.’s (2012) Connection to Nature Index (CNI) and develops a refined “gradient of connection” based on the instrument structure, proposing boundaries of low, mild and strong connection that are relevant for conservation activities. It shows how the suggested boundaries relate to self-reported conservation behaviours with a high probability of performing behaviours only reached at strong levels of connection. Data shows that, in agreement with current perceptions, the population of UK children surveyed have a low connection to nature and are unlikely to be performing many conservation behaviours. This demonstrates how the index can be used to measure and evaluate connection in populations in a way that will enhance future conservation efforts. Free access short term at this link

30 Days Wild: who benefits most?
M Richardson, K McEwan, G Garip – Journal of Public Mental Health
The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild campaign shows promise as a large-scale intervention for improving public engagement with nature for well-being. In total, 273 people fully participated in a repeated measures evaluation comparing baseline measures of nature connection, health, happiness and conservation behaviours with measures post-30 days and 3 months. There were sustained and significant increases for scores in nature connection, health, happiness and conservation behaviours. Those with lower scores at baseline in nature connection, conservation behaviours and happiness showed the most benefit. Older participants and those with higher baseline scores in conservation behaviours were the most likely to sustain their engagement with the campaign.

From Awe to Ecological Behavior: The Mediating Role of Connectedness to Nature
Yang et al – Econpapers
This study examines the relationships between people’s feeling of awe, their connectedness to nature, and ecological behavior. Findings indicate that awe helps broaden the self-concept by including nature and increase connectedness to nature, which in turn lead to ecological behavior. They also highlight the significance of connectedness in explaining why awe increases ecological behavior.

Human Connectedness to Nature: Comparison of Natural vs. Virtual Experiences
MD Smith et al – International Conference on Innovative Technologies and Learning
This study will attempt to determine student experience a more significant potential positive impact on stress and well-being in nature or a simulated natural environment experienced via virtual reality. This study is a connectedness to nature study where students report how connected to life they feel after being immersed in the setting for a period.

Significant life experiences that connect children with nature: A research review and applications to a family nature club
C D’Amore, L Chawla – Chapter in Research handbook on childhood nature
This chapter opens with a review of past Significant Life Experiences research and theories of child development that predict these repeated findings. It also reports on an evaluation of family nature clubs (FNCs). This study of more than 330 FNC leaders and participants found both quantitative and qualitative support for the effects of these formative experiences. Statistically significant survey results are complemented by ethnographic observations and interviews that offer insight into what happens during these experiences that makes them important and lasting in memory. The consistency between this study’s results, previous SLE research, and relevant concepts in the psychology of child development is discussed.

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