This is part of a recent round up by Natural England of recent and 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 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.

How outdoor science education can help girls stay engaged with science
KT Stevenson, RE Szczytko, SJ Carrier, MN Peterson – International Journal of Science Education
Using a pre–post, treatment-control quasi-experimental design, we evaluated how an OSE program differentially impacted the science grades, science knowledge, and science self-efficacy of fifth grade girls versus boys. We found the OSE treatment increased knowledge and maintained science grades for girls while grades fell for girls in the control group. We also found that science self-efficacy decreased for both boys and girls in the treatment group. We did not detect direct or interaction effects of race on science outcomes.

Reviewing two decades of research on the Forest School impact on children: The sequel
ZF Dabaja – Education
 “The Forest School Impact on Children: Reviewing Two Decades of Research.” drew on the literature published between 2000 and 2019 to identify seven main impacts of Forest School on children and then outlined two of these impacts which pertained to social and cooperative skills and physical skills. This article aimed to shed light on the five remaining Forest School impacts: (a) learning performance and cognitive skills, (b) self-confidence and self-esteem, (c) emotional and mental wellbeing, (d) risk management skills, and (e) environmental awareness and sense of belonging.

Outcomes of art-based environmental education in the Hudson River Watershed
Schneller et al – Applied Environmental Education and Communication
The intent in adding art to a science curriculum was to help fifth- and sixth-grade students learn about the Hudson River Watershed, environmental issues, and ecosystem recovery. Students participating in the program made significant gains in environmental knowledge. Their environmental attitude scores also improved, but not significantly. 

“Face the cow”: Reconnecting to nature and increasing capacities for pro-environmental agency.  
Raatikainen et al. – Ecosystems and People
Artists and environmental experts working together explored art-science collaboration as an approach to familiarize students with agricultural nature, biodiversity conservation, and the agency of non-human natural elements. The art-science program which they developed proved to be effective in promoting students’ emotional and philosophical nature connectedness.

What difference does it make? Exploring the transformative potential of everyday climate crisis activism by children and youth. 
Trott, 2021 – Childrens Geographies
Everyday climate crisis activism represents a bottom-up (versus top-down) approach to activism. This theoretical paper discusses how an arts-based bottom-up approach can be empowering and effective for youth.

Exploring the impacts of contextualised outdoor science education on learning: the case of primary school students learning about ecosystem relationships
JP Ayotte-Beaudet et al – Journal of Biological Education
The present study explored the impacts of a contextualised outdoor science curriculum on what and how elementary students learn when immersed in the local contexts in which natural phenomena occur.  These allowed us to identify (1) three categories of impacts on what students learned: evolution of conceptual understanding about living organisms, development of scientific investigation abilities, and evolution of connection to nature, and (2) two categories of impacts on how students learned: a context that encourages deeper learning and a context that promotes engagement. Our results show that impacts on students went beyond learning about living organisms and found that some students developed a connection to nature without addressing environmental problems during outdoor activities.

Paving the Way for Outdoor Play: Examining Socio-Environmental Barriers to Community-Based Outdoor Play
J Loebach, M Sanches, J Jaffe, T Elton-Marshall – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
This study examines how social, cultural and environmental factors may be hindering children’s outdoor and community-based play. Five multilevel regression models, controlling for any school clustering effect, examined associations between outdoor play time per week and variable sets representing five prevalent factors cited in the literature as influencing children’s outdoor play (OP). Models predicted that younger children and boys were more likely to spend time playing outdoors; involvement in organized physical activities, other children nearby to play with, higher perception of benefits of outdoor play, and higher parental perceptions of neighborhood social cohesion also predicted more time in outdoor play. Time outdoors was less likely among children not allowed to play beyond home without supervision, felt they were ‘too busy’ with screen-based activities, and who reported higher fears related to playing outdoors.

Primary children’s views about appreciating, supporting, and learning about nature
R Sheldrake, MJ Reiss – Journal of Biological Education
In order to gain new insights children in England were surveyed. The analysis applied predictive modelling to reveal independent associations between the children’s views. The children’s appreciation of nature and affinities towards animals were two of the strongest positive predictors of their interest in learning about nature, which was the strongest positive predictor of their aspirations towards careers involving nature or animals. Other findings highlighted the importance of nature-related activities and also children’s wider educational contexts and views. Watching nature-related media positively predicted children’s interest in learning about nature, while reading books about nature or wildlife positively predicted children’s aspirations towards careers involving nature or animals. Children’s confidence and enjoyment in their schoolwork positively predicted their appreciation of nature and also their interest in learning about nature.

Developing an integrated approach to the evaluation of outdoor play settings: rethinking the position of play value
R Parker, S Al-Maiyah – Children’s Geographies
This paper reports on the development of an evaluation tool, which supports the review and development processes linked to play parks. The Play Park Evaluation Tool (PPET), which is evidence-based in content and developed with a multi-disciplinary approach drawing on disciplines from the Built Environment and Health Sciences (occupational therapy), considers key areas contributing to the accessibility and usability of play parks. Aspects evaluated include non-play features such as surface finish and seating, recognising the relevance of these in creating accessible, usable spaces for play. This in-depth appraisal is supported by the creation of an infographic illustrating the resulting data and provides a method by which this information is presented in an accessible form.

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