Exploring Schools’ Use of Natural Spaces

  • Martin GilchristEmail author
  • Rowena Passy
  • Sue Waite
  • Rachel Cook
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 12)


This chapter focuses on the changing ways in which schools are using natural spaces as part of their pupils’ learning experience. We suggest that learning in natural spaces has undergone something of a renaissance in recent times and explore the reasons that this might be so. We then examine ways in which schools and other practitioners are using outdoor spaces for play, for non-curricular, and for curricular learning. The chapter draws on a range of countries for examples that show how a nation’s cultural ideas about the outdoors can be incorporated into a country’s outdoor learning and how other ideas travel across boundaries to be interpreted in different practical ways. Within these sections, we consider different theoretical underpinnings that inform learning outside. Finally, the benefits of and challenges to outdoor learning are considered.


Outdoor learning Natural environment Schools Curriculum Play Natural Connections Demonstration Project 


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Copyright information

© Crown Copyright 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Gilchrist
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rowena Passy
    • 2
  • Sue Waite
    • 2
  • Rachel Cook
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural EnglandYorkUK
  2. 2.Plymouth Institute of Education, Plymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  3. 3.Department of Education and Professional StudiesKing’s CollegeLondonUK

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