Wilderness Schooling is managed and run by the education charity North East Wellbeing (NEW) whose aim is to help schools to meet the wellbeing and educational needs of children.
Any and every school can take part in Wilderness Schooling.
Wilderness Schooling delivers the core curriculum in maths, science and English using the outdoors as the classroom. Our aim is to raise standards in core subjects.
We are concerned with the whole child, of course we are, but we want to show that this work and school attainment are compatible. We have been collecting data since 2013 and the results are clear: children who take part in Wilderness Schooling do better in their Y6 SATS.
How Wilderness Schooling began
Wilderness Schooling was started by Toby Quibell, a teacher, therapist and Visiting Fellow at Newcastle University.
I wanted to find a way of linking the outdoors to the core curriculum. It is commonplace wisdom that structured activities benefit the child in ways that complement the curriculum, but why not achievement in the curriculum itself?
A Holisitc approach
As well as a concern with achieving new levels of curriculum attainment, Wilderness Schooling sets out to gather and present the evidence that children can develop socially and emotionally through engagement with the outdoors.
Visiting teachers think of the Wilderness as a place for enjoyable activities with social and self-esteem benefits, and also as a context for practically-applied learning leading to increased attainment.
The outdoor classroom allows the restless to be restless; it allows the curious to be curious; it allows the hands-on pupils to get their hands on stuff and explore how the practical applications of maths science and English give real-world outcomes.
Increasing learning capacity
This seems to us to be a particular concern when learning is squeezed by the corrosive effects of poverty. When children have not been allowed to build up a vocabulary of sights, sounds and sensations through familiarity with the wonder and delight of the natural environment, it leads to an impoverishment of learning capacity. When the external circumstances of a child’s environment are cramped, unkind or simply defined by the need to count every penny: schooling suffers. And where schooling suffers, so do life expectations.
It may be that a child finds it very difficult to sit still, or to control feelings, to express herself without recourse to violence in words or actions. Or it may be that children are able to give every indication of getting along, but whose potential is not properly explored because their resources of experience and metaphor are not enough to allow the beauty of learning to live within them.
Wilderness Schooling is for these children. By connecting children to the living environment, we allow them to explore the practical, magical and cross-curricular aspects of learning.
Invitation to Wilderness Schooling
Download this short report which sets out the benefit to children’s attainment when they attend Wilderness Schooling, and the cost of the six week programme.