20 October 2017

Learning Outside the Classroom: out and about guidance

By Engaging Places | 9 October 2014

The Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) website has an online toolkit for teachers to help prepare for out-of-school learning experiences, and shows how to incorporate such experiences into curriculum planning.

Photo of four students with clip boards standing in front of the Winter Gardens, Sheffield

Bradfield School students outside the Winter Gardens, Sheffield © Steve Hall Photography

Termed ‘out and about guidance’, it is organised by the three key questions for curriculum planning, outlined by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA):

  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • How do we organise learning?
  • How well are we achieving our aims?

There is a wealth of information contained in this guidance, all very useful, but a lot to take in on one visit to the website. To help you find what you need, the Engaging Places team has highlighted the sections that are most helpful to begin with (click on the headings below to go to the sections on the LOtC website).

Why? Making the case
This is a great summary about the benefits of learning outside the classroom. Listed benefits include: personal and social development; school improvement; sense of place; and risk, challenge and adventure. You can click on individual topics to find more information on how and why each one is beneficial.

Setting learning objectives
This guide to thinking about the learning objectives and outcomes of your out-of-school learning experience uses a diagram to help you organise your planning. There is good information on relevant learning activities to achieve particular outcomes.

This two-page document helps you make sure your LOtC activity is meeting clear aims and objectives. There are suggestions on how to plan for continuous opportunities for learning outside the classroom.

Looking at policy
An easy-to-read overview of policy areas you may need to consider in your LOtC planning. Each policy is presented with a brief description of how this can be used in LOtC, along with suggested websites to find out more.

Even if your school or department already has a policy for what you can and can’t charge parents for, this three-page document provides you with a good background on funding and the grey area that LOtC opportunities can fall into.

There are suggestions for other ways of funding experiences, and ideas for cutting costs. Finally, a flowchart helps you think through where funding for such experiences should come from.

Photo of a young student with an officer at a desk

Student on an English Heritage discovery visit at the secret Wartime Tunnels, Dover Castle © English Heritage

There is a list of suggested areas that can be used for learning outside the classroom.

You can do it
This section helps you refine your planning paperwork to three basic procedures – risk management, employer approval and parental consent. It will help you identify the level of activity you are planning, from simple to complex. There is useful information on what you should be doing in your planning process and what paperwork needs to be completed.

Photo of group of students sitting in the London Eye cabin

Highbury Fields students visiting the London Eye © Alys Tomlinson

Who can help?
This section provides a list of sources you can draw upon for planning and preparation, and ideas of how to go about including each source of information.

Support for learning outside the classroom
This page is definitely worth a visit – it has a long list of other supporting bodies that can help you in your planning, or will point you in the right direction. Examples are: national education initiatives; local level networks; information on inclusion; health and safety links; handy suggestions for evaluation; notable award schemes; and subject- and sector-based bodies.

Evaluation of any project, and especially out-of-classroom opportunities, is invaluable. Assess student learning and the benefits of running LOtC activities. It will help to highlight to your department, headteacher and school why such a project should continue.

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