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Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling

Key Message

Outdoor learning has a positive impact on children's behaviour, social skills, health and wellbeing, resilience, confidence and sense of place.


Malone, Karen and Waite, Sue. (2016). Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling: Pathways from Evidence to Impact Report 2016. Available online: Plymouth: Plymouth University. 27 pp.


Student Outcomes and Natural Schooling has been produced by Plymouth University and Western Sydney University, following a conference organised in collaboration with the University of East London and Natural England, and with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The report identifies a framework showing how governments could build on existing and current research and introduce outdoor learning as an integral element of national education policies.


This report signposts pathways from evidence to impact in learning in natural environments by:

1. summarising the research context including evidence on the influence that social and economic factors have on the scale and nature of children’s use of and access to the natural environment and the challenges this presents, and reviews of the impact of outdoor learning - in particular on the foundational dispositions and non-cognitive skills that are associated with children’s attainment, and their health and wellbeing;

2. summarising the policy context including the latest policy priorities that outdoor learning can address;

3. presenting the practice context through evidence from 21 national and international school-based outdoor learning case studies reported from eleven countries - highlighting challenges and opportunities, and making recommendations for improving delivery and evaluation of programmes to better support policy and practice; and

4. proposing pathways to impact for policy transformation, and highlighting how developing more productive exchange between policy and research in outdoor learning might support these pathways by highlighting critical gaps in evidence and recommending ways to address these gaps.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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