Helen Bilton, Course Director for the PGCE Primary Programme at the University’s Institute of Education, has said it is vitally important that children are encouraged to play and learn outside. Her book published this month, Outdoor Learning in the Early Years, says there are enormous benefits to getting children out of the classroom.
“Apart from the obvious physical benefits, children also behave differently outside,” said Mrs Bilton. “Research shows that their level of conversation increases, there is a better gender mix and they have a much more ‘can do’ approach.
“As the level of physical activity in children declines, outdoor learning is even more important. There has been a decrease in the numbers of children walking to school and many do not get the opportunity to play outside at home.”
Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England, published his On the State of Public Health report this week, in which he reports that among 2-15 year olds, 68% of boys and 76% of girls do not meet the minimum recommendation of an hour of moderate physical activity per day.
He says by school age, the focus needs to shift to making physical activity more accessible, including emphasising its importance within the school curriculum. Increased physical activity within the curriculum is more likely to improve educational attainment.
He recommends that every secondary school child undergoes an annual fitness test to reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
Mrs Bilton added: “We know outdoor activity is good for health and learning, but it also promotes independence. Children cannot learn how to be safe if they have no experience of being out and about. We don’t want danger and hazard but we do want risk and challenge.”
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Notes to editors
The 3rd edition Outdoor Learning in the Early Years is published by Routledge.
The Institute of Education is a major provider of teachers nationally and regionally, offering PGCE Secondary and Primary, BA (Ed) and the Graduate Teacher Programmes (GTP). The secondary programme and the primary programme have both received the top Ofsted grades in 2006/7 and the Institute is a category ‘A’ provider for all our courses.
The employment rates of its graduates are the highest in the University and the best in the country of any ITT provider. After successful work in local schools many of our students are offered local jobs and then take advantage of our excellent, subsidised MA programmes. Building on the success of its Foundation degree it has recently become a major provider for Early Years Professional status.
The University of Reading is rated as one of the top 200 universities in the world (THE-QS World Rankings 2009).
The University of Reading is one of the UK’s top research-intensive universities. The University is ranked in the top 20 UK higher education institutions in securing research council grants worth nearly £10 million from EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, AHRC and BBSRC. In the RAE 2008, over 87% of the university’s research was deemed to be of international standing. Areas of particular research strength recognised include meteorology and climate change, typography and graphic design, archaeology, philosophy, food biosciences, construction management, real estate and planning, as well as law.
Standards of teaching are excellent – the University scored highly in the National Student Survey 2009. 87% of Reading students responding to the survey stated they were satisfied with the quality of their course.
The University is estimated to contribute £600 million to the local economy annually.
University of Reading is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience. www.1994group.ac.uk
More information at www.reading.ac.uk