Over the past three years, the John Madejski Academy has been supporting Dr Carol Fuller, Deputy Director of Research at the University of Reading, carry out a study into the effects of outdoor learning and exposure to outdoor education on students’ social, character and academic development.
Whilst many people agree that there are positive benefits, very little hard evidence exists and through working with Ufton Court, a small focus group of students, now in Year 11, have been making regular visits to engage in an outdoor learning programme. The Academy and University have also been tracking their academic progress data and regularly taking student voice feedback via interviews and questionnaires.
The focus group made their final visit to Ufton Court this week as the research period now draws to a close. Students have been challenged each visit to undertake more adventurous activities and develop their skills in leadership, team work and communication. This visit saw some of the most difficult activities yet with students building a medieval slingshot, designing and building a chair from resources found in a woodland and putting their team work skills to the test on the low rope challenge.
The initial research findings are highly encouraging and Dr Fuller will now conduct further analysis before writing up the study for publication in academic journals. The University would like to thank the Academy as well as Ufton Court for their support of this programme and also the group of students who have willingly engaged in all aspects of this research with energy and enthusiasm.