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UK leading in learning outside
Detail: The UK is leading other European nations in developing learning outside the classroom. In a first of its kind event, education experts from nine different countries, funded by the EU, gathered in the Lake District in November to see what they could learn about how to enrich children's education by taking them outdoors.

Geoff Cooper, who runs the Wigan council outdoor education centre at Low Bank and has more than 30 years' experience in outdoor education organized the event. "I think the UK is leading the way compared to other countries in Europe that don't have the same wealth and richness of opportunities as we do here," says Cooper. "Our whole system of outdoor education centres – something like 100 in Britain – is linked to the curriculum in schools and, compared to other parts of Europe, this is quite unusual."

Learning outside is becoming embedded in the education system with a number of organisations and venues accredited under the government's Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) quality badge scheme, launched a year ago. More than 500 different companies and venues – from nuclear power stations to the offices of the Guardian newspaper – have been awarded a quality badge under the scheme in recognition of being able to offer a high-quality educational visit within a safe environment.

However, school trip organisations, feel that the scheme is still not widely known in schools. Ian Pearson, development officer for the School Travel Forum, which represents 21 educational tour operators, and who is also a member of the LOtC committee and its advisory group, says: "The quality badge is there but it isn't fully recognised through education – that is the task for today, the task for yesterday was to get it established."

As Joan Nix, school curriculum area manger from Sandhill View school in Sunderland, which won the LOtC award for excellence and innovation, says, "learning outside the classroom isn't always about the big things "like taking a group of year 10s to Washington", it can also be about getting pupils out of classroom into the school grounds and using the environment on your doorstep.

For full story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/schooltrips/learning-outside
Source: Based on a story by Debbie Andalo, “Britain leads in learning outside”, The Guardian, March 1, 2010
Date: March 3 2010