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The future of outdoor learning - University students collect their Field Teaching Certificate, the first of its kind in the country
The future of outdoor learning - University students collect their Field Teaching Certificate, the first of its kind in the country
Chip Cunliffe, one of the first to be awarded the qualification, believes outdoor learning should be an integral part of education
Chip Cunliffe, one of the first to be awarded the qualification, believes outdoor learning should be an integral part of education

Press Release - 23 June 2006

'Get children out of school', says educationalist

The national decline in traditional educational fieldtrips is producing a generation completely disconnected with their environment, said educationalist Dr Robert Barratt, who has created the UK’s first programme to qualify training geography teachers in specific field teaching and risk management skills.

Over the last ten years, high-profile accidents on fieldtrips have caused concerns amongst parents about the safety of fieldwork. However, statistically, children are in more danger at home in bed than they are on a school trip.

Teachers have also become increasingly concerned about their legal liability in the event of an accident. This has caused problems in providing staff cover, and, in some cases, the more adventurous outdoor learning opportunities are being replaced by ‘jollies’ with little educational value.

Dr Robert Barratt, from the Department of Education at the University of Bath, worked with the Field Studies Council (FSC) to design a programme that would give training geography teachers a specific qualification in field teaching in addition to their Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). The programme aims to restore confidence in fieldwork and remind people of the value of outdoor learning.

Dr Barratt said: “By preparing our geography teachers to be able to lead safe and effective fieldwork we are at the forefront of a national push to get children out of school and back into learning in their natural environment.

“We expect these children to grow into a voting public that understands today’s environmental issues, but at the moment most children aren’t allowed out of the classroom regularly to learn about the world around them,” he said.

The programme was launched in advance of the Outdoor Learning Manifesto due to be announced in September 2006. The FSC are interested in how the University of Bath’s new programme could be developed as an appropriate model for preparing teachers to work outside the classroom safely.

Chip Cunliffe, aged 30, was one of the first students to be awarded the new certificate. He said: “Fieldwork gives children the chance to see how the things they learn in class relate to the real world. As a teacher it requires a different range of skills, from practical first aid and navigation to designing adaptable lesson plans and organisation.”

Dr Barratt said: “Geography is just one outdoor subject that uses the landscape as a resource, we hope to see outdoor learning established throughout the core curriculum.”

Samantha Rudd, Assistant Head of the FSC Centre where the Trainees are assessed, said: “Fieldwork develops a pupils’ sense of wonder of the world around them. It is a holistic approach to learning, developing self confidence, providing exercise and encouraging pupils to become risk aware.

“The candidates from the University of Bath were of an exceptionally high calibre, with a genuine passion for fieldwork and an outstanding level of professionalism and dedication.”

The Department of Education at the University of Bath is an international leader in environmental education. In addition to its teacher training courses, it is home to the Centre for Research in Education and the Environment run by professor William Scott, which focuses on the relationship between education and learning and sustainable development.

For more information about the PGCE course at the University of Bath please contact Tony Murch, Director of studies on t.murch@bath.ac.uk or see the PGCE website at http://www.bath.ac.uk/education/pgce/


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