Outside Motivation

England’s largest outdoor learning project reveals children more motivated to learn when outside.

Children from 125 schools across the South West of England are happier, healthier and more motivated to learn thanks to a new project commissioned by Natural England that has turned the outdoors into a classroom and helped schools transform ways of teaching.

The findings have been released today by the Natural Connections Demonstration project, a four-year initiative to jelp school children – particularly those from disadvantaged areas – experience the benefits of the natural environment by empowering teachers to use the outdoors to support everyday learning.

The projectm which is funded by Natural England, the Department for the Enviornment, Food and Rural Affairs and Historic England and delivered by Plymouth University, is the largest project of its kinds in England and has already helped more than 40, 000 primary and secondary school pupils get out of their classrooms and into the outdoors.

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:

“We learn to love nature as children, and our commitment to nature later in life – respecting it, protecting it, restoring it, or simply enjouing it – is buold on that childhood foundation. That’s why it’s so important we give all children the chance to experience the natural world.”


Sue Waite, Associate Professor in Outdoor Learning at Plymouth University, said:

“The model for this project was built on substatntial evidence into both the benefits and challenges schools face when embedding outdoor learning into core teaching, By working directly with teachers we’ve helped to bring about a sustainable culture of outdoor learning across schools that will continue long after the project has ended and will leave behind a lasting legacy.”


For the first time, the Natural Connections project provides strong evidence that learning outdoors has multiple benefits for school children. 92 per cent of teachers surveyed said that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors and 85 per cent saw a positive impact on their behaviour.

The majority of children also thought they learned better and achieved more when learning outside. 92 per cent of pupils involved in the project said they enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors, with 90 per cent feeling happier and healthier as a reult.

The project has found taking lessons outside can slo help motivate teachers, with 79 per cent reporting postitive impacts on their teaching practice. Almost 70 per cent of teachers said that outdoor learning has had a positive impace on their job satisfaction and 72 per cent reported improved health and wellbeing.


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