The Power of Curriculum Outdoor Learning: Enhancing Education Beyond the Classroom

April 25, 2024

Outdoor learning is a dynamic educational approach that transcends traditional classroom settings, offering an engaging and meaningful experiences for students. Curriculum outdoor learning, specifically, takes National Curriculum objectives beyond the four walls, embracing the school’s outdoor environment as a classroom. In this blog, we’ll delve into what curriculum outdoor learning is, its benefits, and how primary teachers can integrate it into their every day teaching.

What is Curriculum Outdoor Learning?


Curriculum outdoor learning involves taking curriculum subjects and teaching them in the school’s outdoor environment. From maths and science to English and art, almost any subject can be taught effectively in an outdoor setting. Rather than confining learning to the classroom, it takes advantage of the space and natural elements in the outdoor environment to create immersive and enriching learning experiences.

Principles of Curriculum Outdoor Learning:

  1. Engagement: By integrating outdoor experiences into the curriculum, students become more engaged and excited about learning. We all know that increases in engagement mean increased learning potential!
  2. Exploration: Encourages children to explore, investigate, and develop a deeper understanding of the world around them - when used to provide context to learning objectives this provides a deeper understanding of what children are learning about.
  3. Holistic Learning: Curriculum outdoor learning fosters holistic learning experiences, addressing physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development simultaneously. Simply just being outdoors has incredible benefits on the brain and cognition!
  4. Hands-on Learning: It promotes hands-on learning, allowing children to touch, feel, and experience their subjects, which often leads to better retention and understanding.

Ways to deliver curriculum outdoor learning:

  1. Experiential Learning: Students learn by doing, touching, and observing rather than solely through formal teaching techniques involving whiteboards and teacher talk. For example, instead of teaching about the parts of a plant from a diagram, the children head out to the school garden to observe and dissect plants themselves!
  2. Integrated Learning: Curriculum outdoor learning seamlessly integrates with traditional subjects, making the learning experience both captivating and comprehensive. These sessions lift the activities delivered inside the classroom, add movement and interaction to bring them to life outdoors. For example, multiplication relay races - the children are still recalling their timestables but combining the element of movement and competition will not only engage them, but help them recall their learning too!

Benefits of Curriculum Outdoor Learning:

1. Enhanced Learning Experiences:

Outdoor learning provides a unique experience that enhances learning. The outdoor environment offers a diverse range of learning resources and stimuli that cater to different learning styles and preferences. Visual learners may benefit from observing nature, while kinesthetic learners can engage in physical activities such as games or outdoor experiments. Learners may also enjoy creating large-scale visual representations on the playground, appealing to both learning types! This diversity fosters inclusivity and allows all students to thrive in their learning journey.

2. Improved Health and Wellbeing:

Outdoor learning promotes holistic development by nurturing students' physical, emotional, and social well-being. Spending time outdoors promotes physical activity and encourages a healthy lifestyle, while also providing opportunities for relaxation and stress relief. Furthermore, collaborative activities in outdoor settings foster teamwork, communication skills, and empathy as students learn to work together and appreciate the interconnectedness of nature.

Outdoor learning promotes mental wellbeing by providing students with opportunities to:

3. Eco-conciousness

By learning outdoors, children develop a deeper connection and appreciation for the natural world. This fosters a sense of responsibility and encourages sustainable behaviors. This happens organically alongside your teaching, simply being outdoors offers children the chance to build a positive association with nature whilst they focus on the objectives at hand.

4. Social Skills Development:

The outdoor environment demands that activities include collaboration, communication, and teamwork, helping children to develop essential social skills. The calming effect of the outdoors often supports children who may usually struggle to work cohesively with others indoors and the benefits of their social skill development can continue to have a positive effect on their indoor lessons too.

Implementing Curriculum Outdoor Learning:

1. Curriculum Planning:

Integrate outdoor learning opportunities into the curriculum planning process. Outdoor learning should not put any extra demand on your weekly timetable, curriculum outdoor learning is not a subject, it is a tool for teaching. We are able to harvest the benefits of outdoor learning in Primary Schools by delivering the curriculum through the outdoor environment.

To get started:

2. Risk Assessment:

Ensure a thorough risk benefit assessment for general outdoor learning has been completed before heading outside to ensure the safety of all students. Identify and mitigate potential hazards to create a safe learning environment. To learn more about completing risk benefit assessments, read our ‘risk: assessing the benefits’ blog post.

3. Teacher Training:

Provide teachers with the necessary training and support to help them feel confident in delivering outdoor learning experiences. This might include:

4. Utilise Outdoor Resources:

Take advantage of the resources available in your school’s outdoor environment, such as:

5. Reflective Practice:

Encourage teachers to reflect on outdoor learning experiences and share best practices. Regular reflection ensures continuous improvement and the refinement. Some teachers may be ‘outdoorsy’ in their home life and therefore find embracing outdoor learning easier than others - providing opportunities for your team to share outdoor learning successes will provide not just inspiration but reassurance across your team.


Curriculum outdoor learning is a powerful educational approach that offers numerous benefits to primary students. Integrating the approach into the curriculum enhances students' learning experiences by providing them with a stimulating, inclusive, and holistic opportunities for learning that fosters curiosity, critical thinking, and personal growth.

If you would like to learn more about how to plan effective curriculum-linked outdoor lessons, embed the approach in your school and make the most of your outdoor spaces without any further development, check out our outdoor learning staff training.