This is 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.

Examining opportunities for risky play in preschool outdoor play areas
S Cetken-Aktas, S Sevimli-Celik – International Journal of Play
The aim of this study was to examine the opportunities for risky play that were present in six observed preschool outdoor play areas. It was revealed that great heights and high speed were the most frequently observed risky play categories. However, the presence of these observed categories does not guarantee children engaged in quality play. Due to safety concerns or other restrictions, there were a very limited number of opportunities for risky play exhibited in the play areas of the current study. Therefore, designing play areas where children have a greater number of opportunities for more risky play experiences is necessary.

Availability of nature and access to nature in school: evidence from a Danish longitudinal school study
A Quinto Romani, RL Lund – Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
There has been an increasing focus on test scores and rankings in schools. However, the focus on children’s standardized test scores has come at the cost of their social relations. As a reaction to this test-centric focus, new approaches claim that nature is important not only for children’s social relations but also for their scholastic achievement. Drawing on a longitudinal dataset following 1,087 Danish schoolchildren in the Municipality of Aalborg, this paper sets out to investigate the impact of the availability of nature and access to nature on social relations and scholastic achievement. We address the endogeneity of child quality by applying a value-added approach and the endogeneity of school quality using propensity score matching. Our analyses suggest that the availability of nature and access to nature in themselves are not enough to promote social relations.

Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot … children’s play preferences outdoors across a year in one private pre-school setting.
Elliott – International Journal of Play
This study found that preschool children – when given the choice at their childcare center – regularly played outside in all kinds of weather. Ways in which the children modified and adapted resources and activities according to different weather conditions allowed them to discover a new range of play possibilities. Teacher reluctance to go outdoors in inclement weather could be a barrier limiting children’s outdoor experiences. 

Other knowings and experiencing otherness: Children’s perspectives of playing a hunting game in a nature reserve
D Adams, G Beauchamp – Australian Journal of Environmental Education
This study sought to find out how children (aged 9–10 years) “playing” the role of animals in a nature reserve could enable them to experience different ways of being and different ways of understanding their relationship with the world around them. The results suggest that playing the hunting game in a biodiverse environment does offer states of being and knowings that are not as accessible in schools. Playing the role of an animal had afforded the children with an accentuated, embodied experience, offering insight into the otherness of the more-than-human world.

‘Everything we do will have an element of fear in it’: challenging assumptions of fear for all in outdoor adventurous education
J Reed, H Smith – Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
This paper presents the examined interrelationships of facilitator perspectives on fear and how fear influences the developmental potential for participants in OAE. Multiple-case study research interviewed four OAE facilitators and observed participants’ experiences of fear-related practice through a caving activity. The findings demonstrate a distinct and complex tension between the intentional facilitation of fear and the diverse impact fear can have for participants. Two primary outcomes emerged: the historically situated assumptions of a fear for all approach are challenged, and fear was recognised to isolate and marginalise participants unable to successfully interact with fear.

A New Environmental Education Approach: Environmental Emotion Enhanced Activities
F Tokur, A Akgün – Chapter in Innovative Approaches in Science Education
The development of environmental emotions and ideas to protect the  environment in individuals is more important than enacting laws and  regulations to protect the environment. Thus, environmental education in educational institutions should include environmental emotions rather than adopting conventional instruction techniques. In the present study, enhanced activities include connectedness with nature, biospheric environmental concerns and commitment to the natural environment dimensions, which are the subcomponents of environmental emotions, are introduced.

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