Inspectors sit on adventure report;News;News and Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
THE OFFICE for Standards in Education is refusing to publish a report which heaps praise on outdoor activities, drawing accusations that it is biased against non-academic pursuits.

The TES has obtained a copy of the report which details the "enormous benefits" gained when schools choose the outdoor and adventurous activities option as part of physical education.

"It is regrettable that the chief inspector of schools is unable to publish a survey that confirms the contribution that outdoor education can make," said Brian Davies, chairman of the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres and Oxfordshire's advisory teacher for outdoor education. "Outdoor education addresses the needs of the whole child; that approach doesn't sit easily with a narrow and utilitarian national curriculum."

At an association conference last week, members argued that outdoor education had been threatened by Fair Funding proposals and that the inspectors' report could provide key evidence to support their cause.

"The value of the outdoor experience is often put in anecdotal terms. This report gave an independent objective assessment," said Mr Davies, "It would have allowed us to put the case, for example by making the connection between outdoor and adventurous activities and citizenship."

OFSTED looked at outdoor and adventurous activities in 33 schools earlier this year.

Pupils across the age and ability range were observed. The report paints a glowing picture. It describes pupils' behaviour as "exemplary" at all types of school and says teachers' class-management skills were "of a high order in every context."

The report said that outdoor activities:

build on the commitment and enthusiasm of teachers;

are of enormous benefit to primary and secondary pupils making a discernible impact on behaviour and relationships;

entail educative processes and experiences that are as valuable as the activity skills themselves.

However, the inspectors added that the full benefit to pupils' knowledge, understanding and skills is often lost because of inadequate record-keeping and through under-reporting in school inspections.

Theinspectors admit that it is unusual for them to report on outdoor and adventurous activities. The outdoor education association members argue that this is typical of a regime focused on exam results and school statistics.

OFSTED confirmed that the report had not been published. A spokesman said:

"There's no automatic assumption that a survey will be published. A lot depends on whether a piece of work has anything new or valuable to say."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now