Takeaways on ‘out-of-classroom learning’ at the BSA Conference for Heads

BeVenturesome exhibited at the BSA Conference for Heads this week. It was not only great to speak to Heads about our trips but I also found the talks particularly relevant to outdoor education.

Of most interest was ‘The lifelong value of out-of-classroom
learning experiences’ talk which was based on the research conducted by Simon Beames to measure the nature and impact of out-of-classroom learning experiences (OOCLE) at Gordonstoun school.

You can see the full research paper by Simon HERE and read the report published by Gordonstoun School HERE

The key take aways from my point of view (given that we run week-long outdoor pursuits trips) were:

Trying new things and getting things wrong in front of people becomes normalised during OOCLE.

Simon Beames

Normalising getting things wrong (and it not mattering) is such a powerful way to build resilience and boost creative output. The outdoor environment can be a fantastic platform for this. I think we can make more of this at BeVenturesome. A few words I wrote on the topic

Evidence suggests that one-off trips don’t have enduring effects

Outdoor Education providers (like us) need to be very careful not to over emphasise the impact of short one-off trips. Schools are missing an opportunity if they treat them as one offs. Incorporating them into a consistent strategy that’s right for that school is key. We’re introducing various new initiatives to help teachers and schools get more from their trips. More on this soon!

Multi day trips are very powerful

This is something boarding schools will be very familiar with and I feel there is greater potential benefit for non-boarding schools where the residential experience is more unique.

Seeing staff in a different environment is very positive

For me this is one of the key ways for getting enduring effects from trips like ours. Trips are such a wonderful opportunity for teachers to see kids in a different light and kids to see teachers in a different light. Hours after the conference I was speaking to a client who told me what a wonderful opportunity trips were for this.

Kids liked being away from devices

Trips are a wonderful opportunity for a digital detox. Trips are better with no devices. There is no need for devices on trips. We all know this. Teachers know this. Only 90% of parents get it though! Little blog I wrote a while ago on the topic.

Habitual experience is essential

Resonates with the book Atomic Habits I read recently. This represents the challenge of providers like us who may only have the pupils for a week. Again, working closely with the staff is key.

Gordonstoun School doesn’t talk about co-curricular. They only talk about curricular

When implementing change language can be very important. Have a look around their website


Here are a few tips I might give Heads to help them get more enduring impacts from outdoor pursuits trips:

1.Pick the right staff.

Staff that understand the value of trips and are in regular contact with the pupils during school will make seeing enduring effects that much easier.

2. It’s a relationship opportunity for staff

Make sure staff understand it’s an opportunity for them to form relationships with pupils that will ultimate make their teaching jobs easier and more rewarding.

3. It’s a ‘leverage’ opportunity for staff

Staff can use the experiences on outdoor pursuits trips to leverage learning back at school.

Do you remember when you were scared about going down that canyon Jonny? How did you manage that? How did you feel after that? How can you use that to get over your fear of XYZ?

4. Make it part of your strategy

Making the trip part of your ongoing strategy will not only help you engage staff and pupils in the trip, it will also help you see enduring effect. Outdoor pursuits trips are a fantastic opportunity to bring your schools values and ethos to life. Not only for pupils and staff on the trip but for all stake holders via the stories that get told and the photos that get taken.

Thanks to all the speakers, Heads and BSA for making it a great few days.

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