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SOEC Supporting Schools to meet the Attainment Challenge

There are many ways in which Residential Outdoor Learning provides a real boost for schools in their work to meet the Attainment Challenge.

Teachers need to evidence where a pupil is on the attainment continuum and to observe the use of knowledge, skills and understanding in different contexts. Residential Outdoor Learning provides new contexts, different surroundings and challenging activities for pupils to apply knowledge and skills developed in school.

Literacy and Numeracy

Residential Outdoor Learning provides relevant contexts for teachers to assess literacy, numeracy and health and well-being across the curriculum.  Literacy skills arise with pupils working together to solve problems or using descriptive language when exploring a different environment, for example on a woodland walk. Numeracy knowledge and skills can be developed and assessed through outdoor learning activities such as use of coordinates when map reading, or time, speed and distance on a zip wire.  It can arise from planning meals for an expedition, or looking at the species in a river correlated to speed of water flow. Active learning is evident when pupils engage with the learning through the environment around them.

SOEC Outdoor Programmes provide differing emphases.  Activity programmes focus on building confidence and motivation as well as team work in the outdoors and as such, from delivery of the four Capacities of CfE to specific Es and Os.

Health and Wellbeing

Health and wellbeing outcomes can be further developed and assessed by providing opportunities that includes confidence building, to connectedness to the environment. Emotional and mental health and well-being outcomes are not easy to assess and evidence. However teachers frequently report being able to evidence a growth of confidence, self-esteem and generally happier young people following a Residential Outdoor Learning experience. SOEC can support such assessments based on the findings of our Social Return on Investment and our work with vulnerable, disabled and disadvantaged young people.

Eco-Literacy and Field Studies

An eco-literacy programme focuses on food chains and webs, earth cycles, eco systems and landscapes. Field studies might look at landforms, erosion forces, national parks and the impact of human activity through leisure, pollution or energy generation. These programmes support progression in terms of complexity of concepts and also in the progression of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills development within the subject areas.

Assessment and Evaluation

The residential provides opportunities for teachers to observe and assess their children. Opportunities to engage in quality observations are made possible at outdoor centres where the teacher works in partnership with the outdoor educator.  With an outdoor educator directly involved with the pupils in delivering the activities, teachers are afforded protected time to observe and assess their pupils across a range of experiences and outcomes.

Residential Outdoor Learning supports evaluation providing contexts for pupils to discuss the learning intentions and success criteria of an activity or task; then to evaluate their attainment and achievement and subsequently identify next steps. Residential Outdoor Learning provides an interdisciplinary experience where pupils can transfer this skill across subject boundaries, assess their progress towards the identified learning outcomes and also identify and celebrate their personal achievements.

Another skill is that of risk assessment. How can this be developed in pupils within a classroom environment? The theory can be discussed and taught, theoretical scenarios given to develop knowledge and understanding of risk. Residential learning experiences create opportunities for young people to develop their safety consciousness. They are engaged in risk assessment and the management of risk in meaningful contexts and this is facilitated by being both away from the ultra-safe school environment, and through working with specialist outdoor staff who possess high levels of expertise and familiarity with adventure activities through constant use.

Partnership Working

These are just a few prompts into the way Residential Outdoor Learning supports attainment.  At SOEC we also believe that partnership working delivers the best outcomes.  Through close collaboration, developing shared understanding of learning intentions and joint evaluation, it is possible for SOEC tutors to alter the narrative of a programme to highlight the issues that teachers want to see.  Partnerships take a little more time to establish but deliver fabulous results.  For this reason, we welcome opportunities to meet with teaching teams to discuss working in partnership.