Headlines: October 2nd, 2008

Ofsted inspectors say today that pupils can benefit significantly from getting involved with activities outside the classroom but some schools do not incorporate them in the curriculum because of concerns about health and safety, costs or staff workloads. A report today finds that well-planned activities not only enhance learning, but can also re-engage pupils who are hard to motivate.

‘Learning outside the classroom: how far should you go?’ says activities ranging from trips to museums or visits to historical landmarks to after-hours sports and music clubs or just a science lesson on the school field, all increased pupils’ achievement as well as their involvement and enjoyment. The inspectors say while some schools are deterred by their concerns, those that have curricular provision rated as ‘outstanding’ or ‘improving’ have overcome those barriers.

The report reveals, however, that few teachers or even school heads are aware of the Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto, which was launched two years ago to encourage more off-site learning. Those schools in the study that had emphasised learning outside the classroom had done so because they believed in its value.

According to the report taking pupils outside the classroom does more than raise academic standards. Some activities, such as volunteering, were shown to have a positive impact on pupils’ social development while work experience and activities such as enterprise clubs, encouraged innovation and creativity.

Ofsted is recommending that local authorities and their partners should build on their work in assuring appropriate health and safety practices are in place by supporting and encouraging schools to improve the quality of learning outside the classroom. It is also calling for the Department for Children, Schools and Families to reinforce the value of learning outside the classroom.