Hinds calls for pupils to ‘explore the outdoors’

New programme will encourage pupils to venture outside over the summer break

Catherine Lough

How primary schools can make the most of outdoor learning

Education secretary Damian Hinds has called for children to spend more time outdoors this summer.

Today he launched #SummerOutdoors, which will suggest free or low-cost ideas to entertain pupils over the break that encourage them to explore the world around them.

Mr Hinds, who has championed character education and previously set up an expert advisory group on how schools could develop pupils’ resilience, said that children needed to be encouraged to go on adventures outdoors rather than binge-watching box sets or spending time online.

Related: Hinds asks teachers for advice on character building

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Insight: Why we need to rethink what we mean by resilience

The programme will give parents tips on events for children happening across the country each week, as well as encouraging pupils to spend more time outdoors.

Mr Hinds said: “We will all have fond memories of the summer holidays – adventuring and playing out with friends.

“But all too often these days the temptation is for children to play video games, binge on boxsets or only socialise online. I started this year with a resolution to spend less time on my phone – the summer provides the opportunity to repeat this pledge and redouble my efforts.”

“Character and resilience are the qualities, the inner resources, that we call on to get us through the frustrations and setbacks that are part and parcel of life. School plays a key role in helping to develop these traits but the activities that young people do over the holidays are also key. They can mean that the child going back to school in September is a little more confident, more willing to give something a go and possibly more likely to bounce back from life’s knocks.

“I really want to inspire children and families to explore the outdoors and understand that keeping children entertained during the summer break does not have to cost an arm and a leg. Getting out and about – whether that is going on a walk, playing a sport or building a den – can bring a range of benefits, from families spending time together to keeping an active body and active mind.”

Mr Hinds set out five foundations for the development of character in a speech in February, which include sport, creativity, performing, volunteering and membership, and the world of work, which could involve practical work experience for older pupils or meeting role models in different jobs at primary level.

He has also developed "My Activity Passport" – an activity checklist for children under 11 – which has been downloaded more than 43,000 times since December last year.

Mr Hinds announced that a new framework developed by school leaders and experts will be published in the autumn featuring a series of questions for schools to assess their delivery of character education. The questions will be based on the following themes:

  • Leading and establishing a climate and ethos of character development.
  • Developing character through the curriculum and teaching for character.
  • Developing character through activities in the five foundations for building character.
  • Ensuring character education is for all pupils, including the disadvantaged.
  • Reviewing and refining the existing offer with a view to making good work even better.
  • Developing staff and increasing capacity to deliver.

The Department for Education will also relaunch the Character Awards, which highlight innovative approaches to developing character in schools.

Schools can enter in October, ahead of the awards ceremony in March 2020, with nominations based on the following categories: school culture and ethos, curriculum and teaching, collaboration, a character champion, or delivering against the five foundations for building character.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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