Here’s a further set of evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items from Natural England.  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:

Exploring the significant life experiences of childhoodnature
EB Hacking, DF Cushing, R Barratt – Chapter in the Research Handbook on Childhoodnature
Significant Life Experiences (SLE) offers a formative field of research for consideration by childhoodnature researchers. The first part of this chapter summarizes key findings and insights from previous SLE research. In the second part, we introduce the nine chapters; here, a collection of contemporary studies interweaves the fields of SLE and childhoodnature through time and space. In the third part we group the chapter findings into five childhoodnature insights: embodied experience, nature as family, cultural participation, childhoodnature loss, and developing methodologies. In the final part, we raise issues for future consideration, not least the need for longitudinal research and the advancement of child-framed approaches in these fields.

Who doesn’t visit natural environments for recreation and why: A population representative analysis of spatial, individual and temporal factors among adults in England
Francesca Boyd, Mathew P. White, Sarah L. Bell, Jim Burt Landscape and Urban Planning
Using data from >60,000 adults in England, we explored the spatial (e.g. amount of local greenspace), individual (e.g. socio-economic status) and temporal (e.g. seasonality) predictors of infrequent contact and the reasons given for it. Replicating earlier, smaller studies, infrequent users were more likely to be; female, older, in poor health, of lower socioeconomic status, of ethnic minority status, live in relatively deprived areas with less neighbourhood greenspace and be further from the coast. Extending previous findings, we also identified regional, seasonal and annual effects.

A critical analysis of outdoor learning experiences and the impact on pupil development and conceptual understanding
O Reynolds -The STeP Journal
This paper is a critical analysis of outdoor learning experiences and aims to explore the impact opportunities may have on pupil development and children’s subsequent conceptual understanding.The results of this research suggest that outdoor learning is best utilised when supplemented with focused classroom learning, providing learners with multiple sources and styles of information to deepen their conceptual understanding. A clear connection between pupil and teacher enjoyment and their subsequent engagement was present in the data, culminating in significant leaps forward in understanding and learning.

Investigating the links between lesson characteristics, student engagement, and outcomes at a residential environmental education program
BT Frensley – PhD Thesis
This dissertation investigates the links between lesson characteristics, student engagement, self-determination, and environmental literacy outcomes at a residential environmental education (EE) program.This research offers useful information about why and how EE works in this case and some of the specific characteristics and practices that engender positive environmental literacy outcomes.

A haven of green space: learning from a pilot pre-post evaluation of a school-based social and therapeutic horticulture intervention with children
A Chiumento et al – BMC Public Health
Evaluation of this intervention was situated in the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” framework, using a mixed-methods pre- post-evaluation design. A key study limitation is the pilot nature of the intervention and challenges in adapting evaluation methods to context and age-range. However, results indicate that group based socially interactive horticulture activities facilitated by trained therapists are associated with positive impacts upon the mental and emotional wellbeing of children experiencing behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

The lifelong value of out-of-classroom learning experiences
Simon Beames – University of Edinburgh
This study was designed to deeply understand the lasting influences of out-of-classroom experiences, which have been part of Gordonstoun School’s ‘broader curriculum’ for more than 80 years. First, an online survey was completed by 1183 alumni and 235 parents of current students. Second, the main findings from the surveys were used to inform themes explored through focus group interviews. 94% of respondents to the survey said that out-of- classroom learning experiences, such as expeditions, sailing and community service had an overwhelmingly positive influence on their personal growth. 74% said it had a positive influence on their career path.

Are young children’s utterances affected by characteristics of their learning environments? A multiple case study
Richardson & Murray – Early Child Development and Care
This case study found that the qualities of young children’s utterances in three settings (indoor classroom, outdoor classroom, natural environment) differed according to environment. Language – especially in the use of verbs and adjectives — was richer in the natural environment, suggesting higher activity levels and greater excitement of children in the natural environment.

The Impact of Outdoor Learning and Playtime at school and beyond
Project Dirt asked teachers who had taken part in Outdoor Classroom Day about the impact of taking children outdoors. The results of the survey showed that there is a fast-growing number of schools worldwide that recognise how important outdoor learning is for children, teachers and whole schools.

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