This is my third post about the Natural Connections event in Plymouth last week.
When the audience was eventually allowed to have a say, here are the "questions" and responses I heard, together with my comments ...
A. "Can you separate the Primary & Secondary school data."
We combined data for today but it will be possible to separate out data.
Me: Well, as there were only about 9 secondary schools in the project, it will be hard to say anything sensible about them.
B. "Can we magpie the findings?"
Me. I confess that I had to ask what this question meant, but when I found out, I was saddened anyone had ask.
C. "Why don’t children’s inter-personal problems follow them into the outdoors."
This isn’t like being in the playground, as there is focused activity for the children to get involved and absorbed in.
Me: Good question and response.
D. "Do schools with embedded outdoor learning have lower incidents of bullying?"
We have no idea.
Me: An even better question. If the answer turns out to be “yes”, even the DfE might take note.
E. "What are the negatives to outdoor learning?"
Children can get cold, wet and grumpy, and it can be hard to get them outside.
Me: indeed it can; and probably not just children. But I thought the question might have been about something else – about inefficiency and ineffectiveness, perhaps. Whilst being out there is “fun” (as everyone said, except for those who’d got cold and wet), was the bother of getting out and getting back always worth it? And how was outdoor learning integrated with indoor learning? How indeed. Did anyone ask?
F. "Was there funding for schools to buy kit?"
Hub leaders gave a 'green grant’ (£500-1000) to Beacon schools (to use with other schools). But the cost of providing kit (wellies, etc) is not high.
We’ve worked with lots of partners (of all kinds). Whilst outdoor learning activity has increased, links to other providers hasn’t, suggesting teachers are doing more for themselves. There is certainly more potential for outdoor learning providers to work with schools.
Me: I never heard the question.
H. "Have you demonstrated an attainment difference through outdoor learning?"
No. But outdoor learning gives children foundational affective learning such that there are more likely to attain.
Me: As I wrote down "foundational affective learning”, I thought we might hear more of it.
I. "Are there assessment tools to measure attainment through outdoor learning?"
No. We need a set of tools to do this?”
Me: There is probably a US-based literature as they have the inclination (and the cash) to fund the large longitudinal studies needed.
Me: We never knew what this question was as it was time to have a break, we were told, and the would-be speaker was asked to put his question at the end (he didn't).
The 15 minutes allocated for questions had already spread to 20 and we were behind schedule because the inputs had overrun. It was a great pity that we had to sit through 80 minutes of repetitive and often rambling input to get us to the point where people were stopped from asking questions.
This was not a great way to run a meeting that was supposed to be for the benefit of those attending.