Here’s more from a recent round up by Natural England 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.

Are children actually losing contact with nature, or is it that their experiences differ from those of 120 years ago?
Novotny et al. – Environment and Behaviour
This study used exact data comparisons to document change in experience of nature between generations. The data showed a rise in experience with nature among contemporary children compared to the children of the early 20th century, with mediated experiences playing an important part in contemporary children’s experience of nature. This research calls attention to ways in which “the structure of experiences with nature in 1900 and 2015 is based on different consequences, needs and possibilities.”

School Outdoors: The Pursuit of Happiness as an Educational Goal
D SOBEL – Journal of Philosophy of Education
Sobel discusses the benefits of engaging adolescents in meaningful learning experiences through outdoor education. His case study focuses on a nature-based education program and reports on successes in improving their writing skills and performance on math tests. The key here was to make the learning practical, through real-life applications in places more stimulating than ordinary classrooms. Drawing inspiration from youth testimony and anecdotal evidence from parents, Sobel argues that outdoor education of this kind addresses a fundamental goal of education in promoting happiness: a sense of well-being that really ought to matter more than instrumental aims of education like improved math tests or preparation for higher education and careers.

The Association between Education Outside the Classroom and Physical Activity: Differences Attributable to the Type of Space?
M Bølling, E Mygind, L Mygind, P Bentsen, P Elsborg – Children
This explorative, cross-sectional study investigated children’s sedentary behaviours (SED), light physical activity (LPA) and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) on school days with an EOtC session in green space compared to school days with EOtC in other environments and without EOtC. School days with green EOtC were associated with (mean, −24.3 min SED and +21.3 min LPA compared to school days with non-green EOtC and with +6.2 min MVPA compared to school days with a school-ground EOtC. No sex differences were found. In conclusion, school days with green EOtC must be considered promising to counteract children’s sedentary behaviours during school hours.

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Outdoor Education Programs (OEPs’) on Adolescents’ Self-Efficacy
BB Fang, FJH Lu, DL Gill, SH Liu, T Chyi, B Chen – Perceptual and Motor Skills
We sought to conduct a meta-analytic review of prior studies in this area in order to pinpoint the key elements to OEPs’ effectiveness. We discovered a high level of heterogeneity in the findings of the selected studies. Our meta-analyses revealed that adolescents participating in OEPs enhanced their self-efficacy but this enhancement was moderated by participants’ mental health status, the length of the experiments, study groups, and the duration of the intervention. We found no evidence of publication bias

Challenges and pedagogical conflicts for teacher-Forest School leaders implementing Forest School within the UK primary curriculum
VA Whincup, LJ Allin, JMH Greer – Education
This paper focuses on challenges experienced by ‘teacher-FS leaders’ implementing Forest School within the neoliberal and risk-averse culture of UK primary school education. Thematic analysis of interviews with 12 ‘teacher-FS leaders’ identified five key themes: embedding Forest School within the curriculum is a long-term process; negotiating the performative culture and curriculum constraints; professional identities, values, and pedagogies; negotiating risk aversion; budget and time constraints. Teacher-FS leaders adapted FS principles to meet the needs of their primary school setting. However, they found ways of overcoming challenges, and sought to persuade others of the value of Forest School and outdoor learning.

Developing a relationship with nature and place: the potential role of forest school
Frances Harris – Environmental Education 
This paper focusses on forest school practitioners’ perceptions of children’s development of a relationship with nature and the place where forest school occurs, through interviews with forest school activity leaders. Reflecting on literature, the analysis of interviews sought to identify the processes through which attachment to place or connection to nature occurs. The findings suggest that through regular and repeated activities in a natural setting at forest school, children become more relaxed, overcome any fears, have fun, connect with nature as they come to know it better, and develop an affinity for the location. Further, they develop a sense of ownership and concern for the forest school setting and desire to protect it. For a copy of the full paper please email

‘It’s not for people like (them)’: structural and cultural barriers to children and young people engaging with nature outside schooling
S Waite, F Husain, B Scandone, E Forsyth, H Piggott – Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
The UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) commissioned research into provision of opportunities that support children and young people’s (CYP) engagement with natural environments outside school time to identify whether CYP from disadvantaged backgrounds access the opportunities available, the challenges to do so, and how provision might be optimised to improve engagement. We identified four categories of engagement: outdoor learning; play; improving the natural environment; sports and exercise, and three main provider types: environmental organizations; community groups; and adventure and residential education providers. Using conceptual frames of habitus and ‘nature capital’, we reflect on barriers that currently limit inclusive youth engagement with nature outside schooltime and suggest implications for the design of future opportunities.

Motivating Children to Become Green Kids: The Role of Victim Framing, Moral Emotions, and Responsibility on Children’s Pro-Environmental Behavioral Intent
H Pearce, L Hudders, D Van de Sompel, V Cauberghe – Environmental Communication
This study examines how victim framing can affect children’s intentions to adopt pro-environmental behaviors. Specifically, it examines how a focus on negative consequences of climate change for animals versus landscapes stimulates children’s pro-environmental behavioral intent and whether attributed responsibility for climate change moderates these effects. The results revealed that a message focusing on the loss of animals (vs. landscapes) led to higher empathy, which resulted in stronger anticipatory guilt, which in turn stimulated pro-environmental behavioral intent. Further, the results show that a victim frame focusing on the loss of animals (vs. landscapes) led to higher levels of climate-message avoidance and lower behavioral intent when the responsibility for climate change was attributed to an external (vs. internal) cause.
Engaging children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the natural environment
Defra Research Report
This research reviews current provision of opportunities that support children and young people’s engagement with the natural environment outside of school. The focus of the research is to identify whether children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access the opportunities available, the barriers and challenges that are present, and how best practice can be built upon and current provision optimised to improve engagement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment