There was a nice blog on the NAEE website last week about the Learning Outside the Classroom [LOtC] Mark. This is a UK national accreditation for schools which, NAEE says:
"recognises existing provision and also assists schools to develop LOtC further."
Schools can apply for the Mark at Bronze, Silver or Gold level. The NAEE post goes onto suggest a number of (to me) sensible protocols that might govern such a scheme. These are that such schemes should ...
[i] get progressively much more difficult as you go from bronze to silver to gold, and that it should be really hard to get gold;
[ii] that all awards should be time-limited;
[iii] that the top awards should be dependent on accreditation visits by trained judges; and
[iv] that the criteria for awards should be reviewed regularly with the aid of an independent expert group.
Clearly, CLOtC has put a lot of thought into all this, as its guidance book shows, and as you read it, it shows that a number of (but not all) the protocols identified by NAEE were in their mind as they thought the Mark through. The criteria (in 6 sections) are certainly very detailed, and there is also progression in each of the sections as you go from bronze to silver to gold.
As I read it in detail, I had two thoughts:
- there is little in it that demands evidence of learning specific to LOtC
- it seems relatively easy to get silver and gold
Why do I say this? Well, with , at Gold level, the criteria for measuring impact are:
- In addition to evaluating academic progress, the organisation has procedures in place to monitor less tangible outcomes, e.g. behaviour, level of engagement and confidence.
- Records are kept of improvements in all areas and these are communicated to parents and governors, both as statistics and as individual reports/case studies
- Each child has a personal LOtC development plan which is used in evaluating the success of the activities he/she has been involved in
These seem to be about "procedures", "records" and "plans". They are not about actual impact and learning.
With , although it's early days, a map of successful schools shows the following numbers of awards:
Bronze – 54
Silver – 28
Gold – 15
This is a very high proportion of silver and gold. If these are too easy to get, they will hardly be worth having.