The Education Network for Waltham Forest
Supported by Waltham Forest

Outdoor learning

Early Years Foundation Stage


More children can identify a Dalek than an owl. In the last year 64% played outside less than once a week, 28% hadn't been on a country walk, 21% had never been to a farm and 20% had never once climbed a tree.

Ofsted recognise the importance of learning outdoors: "When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils' personal, social and emotional development."

Children gain enormous benefits from learning outdoors. Being outdoors supports confidence, problem-solving and creativity in the company of other children. Physical activity is enhanced. So is calculated risk taking. In the outdoors, children's use of language is five times greater than indoors.

Suntrap Forest Education Centre is situated in the heart of Epping Forest and has 7 acres of grounds, including an adventure playground with zip wire, ponds and a campsite.

They provide high quality outdoor learning activities for school groups from EYFS to A-level, and training and away days for staff. These activities support classroom-based learning by developing understanding through practical real world experiences.

Suntrap was among the first centres to be awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge, and has continued to hold this award since 2010.

Find out more


Creative and Critical Thinking Outdoors in the Early Years: Ideas, Suggestions and Activities (Juliet Robertson)

Do you want to further develop your setting's practice in supporting children's learning in the outdoors? If so, Juliet Robertson has put together a useful resource detailing how developing creative and critical thinking in the outdoors is very much about teaching skills and learning strategies.

Juliet argues that 'Everyone has the potential to be creative. It is a skill that can and needs to be developed but is often a capacity that young children seem to possess naturally and should be nurtured'.

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Last updated: 
Monday, 3 April, 2017
Last updated: 3 April 2017 by Barry Fong