School group teamworking

Benefits of Outdoor Education

Visiting staff and parents are regularly amazed by how much their children develop, change and grow in such a short time at Bowles. Learning to enjoy learning; to think creatively; to work with others and to believe in themselves are among the core curriculum themes at Bowles. As one child recently asked us: “Why can’t school be like this all the time? We’re learning and we’re also enjoying ourselves.”

There has been an extensive amount of research into teaching practices in the last 20 years and outdoor education has also been scrutinised during this process. There is now hard evidence backing up what we already knew: that outdoor education can have a massive impact not only on personal and physical development (1) but also on students’ academic achievement (2).

A meta-analysis of over 600 studies has shown that engaging in outdoor education can improve GCSE scores by at least one grade! (3) This is believed to be due to a number of factors but the development of a Growth Mindset is fundamental to this. This is why all our staff have been trained in student-centred teaching and learning practices that directly draw out the importance of a Growth Mindset.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation Learning Away found 42 short, medium and long term benefits of outdoor education in its recent review of Outdoor Eeducation (4). These are as follows:

  1. Opportunities to break down existing barriers, hierarchies and power relationships
  2. Opportunities to develop and practise key social skills and be more able to empathise with each other
  3. Different and varied opportunities to experience success
  4. Opportunities to overcome fears, overcome challenges and try new activities
  5. Increased levels of student responsibility, cohesion and a sense of belonging
  6. Students and staff trust each other and students feel more able to ask staff for help
  7. Increased motivation, engagement and raised aspirations
  8. Enhanced confidence, resilience and well-being
  9. New skills and learning continue to develop afterwards, including skills in: independent learning; study and research; self-management; communication; team working and problem solving
  10. Improved knowledge, skills and understanding

Finally the Education Endowment Foundation (5) has shown that many of the core elements of an outdoor education residential can have a huge impact on the progress of children. These core elements include personal and peer feedback, learning to learn, collaborative learning approaches.


  1. Health, Well-Being and Open Space, Literature Review by Nina Morris, OPENspace Research Centre, (2003).
  2. Ofsted (2008)
  3. Hattie, J, Marsh, H.W, James, T and Richards, G.E. (1997) Adventure education and Outward Bound: Out-of-Class Experiences That Make a Lasting Difference. Review of Educational Research. 67:43  Hattie J.L. (1999) Influences on student learning. Downloaded from on 16/03/12Hattie, J. (2008). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses relating to achievement, London: Routledge  Hattie J and H.W March (1996). The Relationship Between Research and Teaching: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research 66: 507-542. Hattie, J.L. (2003) Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Australian Council for Educational Research  Annual Conference on  Building Teacher Quality.
  4. Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
  5. Education Endowment Foundation: