Learning naturally


Greater time spent learning outdoors and interacting with the natural world can boost children’s educational attainment, resilience and wellbeing, and should be the subject of a government enquiry, say a group of foremost environmental and educational experts.

The group Our Bright Future says the pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of British school children isolated from their support network of friends and has had a profound impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, with children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who suffer mental health issues affected most.

Roberta Antonaci, policy and advocacy manager at The Wildlife Trusts, says: ‘We want nature to be part of the solution going forward, but we need more support from government.’ She points to growing evidence that outdoor learning makes children happier and healthier, and has a big impact on attainment. ‘Research commissioned by the Scottish government suggests that experiences in nature can boost academic learning, not only in nature-related subjects, but in unrelated areas,’ she says.

In research by Natural England, 79 per cent of teachers reported positive impacts of outdoor learning on their teaching practice, and 72 per cent reported their own improved health and wellbeing. Furthermore, 85 per cent of schools saw a positive impact on pupils’ b

Our Bright Future have written a letter to Robert Halfon, chair of the Education Select Committee, setting out their views and requesting a government enquiry.