Transforming Education Outside the Classroom. Sixth Report of Session 2009-10

House of Commons

This recently published report from the House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee endorses the importance of learning outside the classroom and recommends further funding from the DCSF to improve and increase provision. Despite 'a very strong body of evidence' to show the benefits of out-of-school learning, the report suggests that little progress has been made since the previous report on this area, five years ago.

The report argues for the importance of access to opportunity for learning outside the classroom for all pupils, not just those with the ability to pay, and calls for the establishment of an entitlement for all pupils to experience at least one out-of-school visit per term within the National Curriculum. To facilitate this, the DSCF are asked to consider subsidising such visits for low income families to ensure equality of access.

To emphasise the importance of out-of-school visits, the report recommends that curriculum guidance materials from QCDA and the DCSF should include reference to visits, and that Ofsted should comment on the inclusion of learning outside the school as part of the curriculum in the School Report Card. Recommendations include the requirement for all schools to have a policy on out-of-school learning, covering both  the educational and health and safety aspects, and to appoint suitably trained co-ordinators. Teacher education and CPD programmes should also be required to include a greater emphasis on out-of-school learning.

The report recognises that difficulties have been presented by Health and Safety legislation, which has led to reluctance on the part of some teachers to engage in out-of-school learning activities. Delays in issuing the promised revised guidance are thus criticised. It is also suggested that some schools are interpreting aspects of the Teachers' Workload Agreement in regard to provision for cover in ways that prevent learning outside the school taking place. The report calls on the DCSF to act in collaboration with teacher unions to reduce these barriers to provision.

The TTRB will be commissioning a fuller review of this report in due course.

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House of Commons Children, Schools and Families Committee

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London: The Stationery Office Limited

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