What are the advantages and disadvantages of teaching outside?


When the sun is shining, it's a great excuse to get the children outside. Over the last number of years, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of time children spend outside. With the use of computers, phones, tablets and television ever increasing in popularity, it has also equated to an increase in children not going out to chat or play with their friends. We did some digging to find out the advantages of teaching outside.  

There are numerous research articles written by doctors, scientists and mental health experts explaining the benefits for children who spend more time learning outside, some findings include:

  • Children who spend more time outdoors make more friends.
  • Active learning outside can improve attitudes to school and education.
  • Children who spend time outside have more of an active imagination.
  • Children who spend time outdoors are generally happier than those who stay indoors.
  • Time outside increases focus on tasks. 
  • Time spent outdoors can boost problem-solving skills.
  • Time outside improves mental wellbeing and self-esteem.
  • Freedom outdoors can reduce aggression.
  • Playing outside can reduce obesity and a love of the outdoors continues into adult life.

As exciting as teaching outside can be for both the teacher and the students, there are certain things to be aware of too:

  • Health & Safety regulations – As a teacher, you are responsible for the children in your class. There are certain health and safety regulations that you must follow to ensure the safety of your pupils and yourself. The health and safety executive (HSE) legislation will be available from your school, make sure to read and fully understand it before taking your lessons outside. 
  • Additional paperwork – Risk assessment plans, consent and evaluation forms will need to be filled out and your school should already have school forms that you can use. 
  • Following curriculum requirements – For some subjects such as maths or science, it can be difficult to study outside and maintain the curriculum requirements. It could be as simple as taking your class onto the school field.
  • Weather – Not having the correct clothing when the weather takes a turn for the worst could prevent outdoor activities. In this case, you can remind the children the day before to bring appropriate clothing for the outdoors.
  • Supervision – The UK Department for Education state that the school is responsible for assessing and managing the risks.
  • Natural Hazards such as bees or uneven ground – as long as the appropriate health and safety aspects have been adhered to, you do not need to worry about these types of accidents. Something will inevitably happen, for example, a child tripping over a stone. You will need to check out the area you are visiting beforehand so that you are already aware of the potential hazards.