The Outdoor Learning Conference brings together the very best outdoor practitioners to the UK's only dedicated outdoor learning event for teachers and schools.

If you are passionate about education and interested in enriching and innovating your teaching practice by taking it beyond the classroom, this event is for you. 

Be inspired by our impressive speakers, get involved with workshops, activities and connect with other educationalists and teachers. Book your tickets to this unique celebration of the profound benefits of learning outside the classroom.

Whatever your experience with outdoor learning, The Outdoor Learning Conference will give you greater confidence to teach beyond the classroom. 

Expect it to be fully participative, experiential and entirely outdoors. You will come away with pragmatic tips, tools and ideas so you can feel confident to take your teaching outside immediately for curriculum and character based learning.


This year's conference covers 3 'pillars' of learning. 

1. Achievement and Attainment 

We will focus on tips/tools/great practice for how to raise attainment levels via outdoor learning. The research underpinning for how and where improvements can be made, plus how to develop and modify your school site to enable learning to happen unconsciously and during play as well as in more formal settings.


2. Health and Wellbeing

Particular focus here is on the mental health benefits of being in the natural environment as well as the physical health of our own school sites. What we teach and how/where we teach it for best effect. We will also explore adult health and wellbeing through mindfulness and meditation/relaxation for teachers using the natural environment. 


3. Character Education

Here we will focus on building some of the wider behavioural skills and habits such as resilience, empathy, positive relationships, collaboration and leadership in our young people using the outdoor environment in a practical and experiential way. 


The conference will provide inspiring keynotes and workshops to help you:

img-green-tick1.gif Achieve outstanding learning outcomes using an outdoor learning approach 

img-green-tick1.gif Enhance mental health and wellbeing in your school

img-green-tick1.gif Explore teaching subjects outside and link to the curriculum

img-green-tick1.gif Find practical curriculum linked ideas and resources

img-green-tick1.gif Gain ideas to maximise your school grounds for teaching at little or no cost

img-green-tick1.gif Explore character education in an outdoor setting

img-green-tick1.gif Implement risk benefit assessment within your school setting

img-green-tick1.gif Increase your confidence, knowledge and skills for teaching outside

img-green-tick1.gif Blend outdoor learning into an already busy curriculum 


This event is for Heads, Deputies, HoDs, Teachers EYFS/KS1/2 or 3 and other education practitioners in the UK. 

£120 + VAT per person





Keynote Speakers

0.jpgDr Anwen Whitham - PhD & Chartered Clinical Psychologist


Lisa Jones - Psychotherapist & health coach

Health and wellbeing are essential for quality of life, overall life satisfaction and protecting against physical and mental health difficulties. Thinking about health and wellbeing as a bio-psycho-social- environmental interaction enables us to become aware of, take

Lisa (1).jpgresponsibility for, and make choices towards a more positive way of life. Learning this link in childhood, enables pattern formation that can have life-long benefit in many ways.

Whilst nature has long been associated with overall health and wellbeing, the development of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and relatively new fields of study including population neuroscience, has enabled researchers to identify biological markers to explain why nature is good for us.

The aim of this keynote and then workshop will be to provide the scientific link between health and wellbeing, and spending time in nature.

You will explore:

  • A shared definition of health and wellbeing and the statistics related to mental health and specifically mental health in children to show that this is an issue we all need to be actively aware of. 
  • Information about the brain and the idea of neurochemistry being central to how we feel and what we do using our Integrative Model of Human Functioning to explain the connections between our internal and external world.
  • Concepts in your teaching practice and your own lives by participating in practical exercises within the environment drawing upon mindfulness,  attention training, memory networks. And visualisation.
  • Growing your confidence in using nature naturally within your teaching practice.


Anwen Whitham - Having worked in psychological research and clinical practice for over 20 years, Anwen formed Stable Focus because she believes that prevention is better than intervention. She is an advocate for using highly trained psychologists and consultants to promote wellbeing and resilience through evidence based, best practice knowledge. Her approach is informed by the bio-psycho-social-environmental interactions that are ever present and draws from her training in a range of evidence based therapeutic techniques. Anwen is passionate about making theory accessible, relevant and usable in schools and the workplace to enable people to fulfil their potential. Anwen lives in the Cotswolds with her family and likes nothing better than donning a pair of wellies and getting outside.  

Lisa Jones is a Health & Well-being Coach and Therapist. A qualified Psychotherapist and Life Coach registered with The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) including their Coaching and Children and Young People’s Divisions as well as The Association for Coaching. After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Counselling, she went on to work with adults to overcome addiction and mental health issues. Lisa uses her experience to promote education on positive brain health and resilience reducing the number of people suffering with ill health in later years. Lisa is known for her ability to engage an audience whether individually or in groups.



242 - Small.jpgJohn Newton - Headteacher

John has been a teacher for fourteen years, the last five of which spent as Head Teacher of Barrow 1618 CofE Primary Free School, in Shropshire. 

Joining the school in September 2013, results were low (in the bottom 20% of schools nationally), morale was on the decline and pupil and parent satisfaction was waning. An OFSTED inspection in early 2014 resulted in an outcome of ‘Requires Improvement’.

Committed to the vision of developing a unique curriculum, centring on experiential and inspirational learning opportunities posed by the outdoor environment and local community, the school’s journey of improvement was rapid and sustained.

When OFSTED revisited in June 2016, the school was awarded ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. More importantly, the school community was invigorated, engaged, happy and achieving highly – with academic results consistently above local and national averages at all key stages.

John is a passionate advocate of Outdoor Learning and has a keen interest in the impact of curriculum design on pupils’ academic and non-academic development. During his keynote, John will share his insights and advice from his initially sceptical view of outdoor learning to becoming a successful practitioner, and inspirational leader with a vibrant and healthy school culture.



Andy (1).jpgAndy Carley - Learning Outside the Classroom

Founder of School Outdoor Learning, Andy invites you innovate and enrich your pedagogical approach by exploring curriculum linked teaching outside. The benefits are more engaged learners, improved behaviour, increased attainment, improved health and wellbeing and more enjoyable lessons.

Develop a broad, balanced curriculum and maximise the impact of outdoor learning at your school. Whether you are just starting out or experienced at teaching outside, this workshop will help you develop the confidence to harness the opportunities that your school grounds provide for teaching and learning. You will:

  • Explore teaching subjects outside & link to the curriculum
  • Find practical curriculum linked ideas & resources
  • Increase your confidence, knowledge & skills
  • Discover the links between LOC & outstanding outcomes in learning and achievement
  • Gain ideas to maximise your school grounds for teaching at little or no cost
  • Find out how to fit it in to a jam packed curriculum
  • Explore pivotal research underpinnings on how it improves mental health, behaviour, academic performance & more
  • See how the whole school environment can benefit whilst achieving outstanding learning outcomes


02 (1).jpgMike Hargreaves - Educating for Character

Resilience, confidence, adaptability, collaboration and communication skills are top of the list of qualities required by employers and universities. 

In a work place that’s rapidly changing and an education framework with an increasing focus on standardisation, there’s a greater need than ever to focus beyond educational content and support the growth and development of our pupils’ personal and transferrable skills. 

During this interactive and experiential workshop Mike will walk you through our simple yet powerful process that he's used with businesses and schools for the past 15 years and it works! You'll learn what you need to know to use it effectively.

Whether you are new to teaching or a seasoned educationalist we’ll show ways of working with your pupils’ so you can:

  • Consistently develop resilience, empathy, creativity, problem solving ability, communication, leadership skills and more
  • Instil a growth mindset
  • Increase engagement and enjoyment of your lessons
  • Build greater rapport with your pupils
  • Develop confidence and self esteem in your pupils
  • Reduce stress, improve health and wellbeing 
  • Recognise the diverse talents of all your pupils
  • Improve classroom behaviour and build a positive culture


IMG_2221 (1).jpgLynne Barnett - Mindfulness & Space to Be

Head of art and outdoor learning at Manor Lodge Prep, Lynne will share the secrets to creating an outdoor space, curriculum resources and practical techniques for developing mindfulness with the intention of improving the health and wellbeing of your school community.

By maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of their thoughts, feelings, and surrounding environment, without thinking about the past and what might be coming up in the future, a student will be in a state of active, open attention to the present.

The intention of 'Space to Be' is to facilitate a student’s capacity to purposefully concentrate on the present moment without interpretation or judgement. Space to Be encompasses three areas brought together within a school,

  • Physical Space: Using principles derived from Japanese culture concepts for garden design, Lynne will share how a school could create beautiful, aesthetic gardens that would reflect their unique character and objectives using 7 Zen principles.
  • Learning Environment: In producing lesson plans, training and case studies, teachers could use this physical space as an educational facility to teach PHSEE alongside Mindfulness. As well as Circle time and discussion based lessons, the Japanese Garden can be an area that, should they wish to be contemplative, students can use during break time. 
  • Community: Participating schools can connect with staff, parents and those beyond education to share in the involvement of building their garden and provide a focal point for schools to discuss their unique experience. 


natasha-branston (1).jpgNatasha Branston - Curriculum Linked Bushcraft 

Natasha is the founder of EKO Learning (Educating Kids Outdoors) and a level 3 Forest School Leader. In her energetic style, this interactive and hands on workshop, Natasha will share with you many practical, engaging and creative activities that you can take away and run with your pupils back at your school immediately.

Using natural materials, inspiration from the environment and a inspired approach Natasha will share her years of experience and knowledge around working with children outside.

The activities will be in line with the bushcraft and Forest Schools theme and link to curriculum areas such as numeracy, literacy science and art. Co-curriculum themes will also be prevalent and fit under one of the conference threads of 'character education' such as resilience, a 'can do' attitude and collaboration skills.


242 - Small.jpgJohn Newton - What about the learning?
So, you’re happy with the ‘outdoor’ bit, but how do maximise the ‘learning’?! Following on from his keynote presentation John will take you on a deep dive into the 'how' of meeting curriculum linked outcomes in a meaningful way and, with academic rigour.
Based on the 'Ofsted outstanding' teaching practices and competencies the staff at Barrow 1618 have developed over the past five years you will explore:
  • the key principles of ‘Outstanding Outdoor Education’. 
  • how to deliver your curriculum through quality outdoor educational experiences.
  • how to overcome some of the barriers to becoming a confident outdoor educator.
  • how to ensure challenge and progression for all, through outdoor education. 


0.jpgDr Anwen Whitham Lisa Jones 

Building on the Keynote address by Anwen and Lisa, the workshop will aim to take a deeper dive into many of the concepts, theories and practices discussed.  

You will further explore:


Lisa (1).jpg

  • Information about the brain and the idea of neurochemistry being central to how we feel and what we do using our Integrative Model of Human Functioning to explain the connections between our internal and external world.
  • Concepts in your teaching practice and your own lives by participating in practical exercises within the environment drawing upon mindfulness,  attention training, memory networks. And visualisation.
  • Growing your confidence in using nature naturally within your teaching practice.




0 (1).jpgHilary Pullen - Co-curricular Clubs

Senior teacher at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys and passionate outdoor advocate, Hilary will share what a great co-curricular club club looks like, how to link it to trips and how to build values and build in rewards. Closely linked to the outdoors you will explore:

1. What makes an excellent co-curricular club outside?

2. What we want the impact of the club to be and how to achieve it.

3. What a great club looks like and a look at links to trips to further skills for children linked to outdoors. For example transferring a ‘can do’ attitude to all aspects of the curriculum indoors and outdoors, and seeing the benefits this can bring through reflection.

4. The impact that outdoor experiences can have on learning and academic achievement and citing the evidence. Realistic expectations of staff in running clubs, and what pupils feedback on clubs and about the need for an ambitious co-curricular programme to market your school.


Andy (1).jpgAndy Carley - Risk Benefit Assessment

'Risk Benefit Analysis' is a HSE approved tool used to mitigate serious risks whilst valuing the benefits to the children from encountering it. The focus is on providing play situations that benefit child development by introducing them to healthy levels of risk thus moving us away from the restrictive ‘philosophy of protection’.

This workshop provides a powerful opportunity for staff to learn about this methodology and reflect on the importance of risk in child development and how we manage it. We will distill an approach that supports a common sense approach to risk while deriving the maximum benefits. You will:

  • Reflect on the concept of children’s play, what it is, what children are learning when engaged with it, what ‘good’ looks like.
  • Explore risk, your attitudes, beliefs and personal responses to it. Permissible versus non-negotiable risks.
  • Consider benefits for children of engaging in play that contains elements of permissible risk.


Attachment-1.jpgSam Lovegrove - Expressive Art and Design: En Plein Air

Learn how to integrate  outdoor and nature based arts and creative design curriculum in to your school approach, with practical tips and ideas to use as a launch pad.

Samantha Lovegrove, Outdoor Education Consultant and author of Harper Collins publication 'Go Teach Outdoors' is leading a session which will cover resources, supplies, and ideas to link into arts and design learning objectives, with cross curriculum outcomes, that can be achieved, in fact enhanced by working with your students 'en plein air'.

This session will also link in to our overall theme in it's discussion of how this can achieve both an extension of an approach designed to enhance pupil and staff's creative, emotional and academic resilience, and will comprise of a short discussion and practical ideas to try your hand at.





Here's what delegates have to say about the outdoor learning conference...

"Inspiring keynote speakers – all teachers need to hear them, the workshops were inspirational and informative. The whole atmosphere and ethos was inspiring encouraging and all doable."

Katy Medley, Lincoln Minster

"Far exceeded my expectations, so inspired to do more and promote this approach in my school so it becomes our culture."

 Sally Fox, Pool Primary

"Great to know I’m on the right lines, great ideas and resources. A great day with lots of food for thought".

 Veronica Kitson, The Gleddings School

 "Other than the venue, I did not know what to expect, however the content of the course, the enthusiasum of the speakers and open minded attitude of colleauges made this perhaps the best CPD event I have attended. Excellent rather than very good in all areas.

The keynote speakers were so passionate about learning; this made the CPD enjoyable but also allowed me to learn as well. The breadth of activities allowed me to take ownership of my learning and development. Furthermore, I was able to chat to colleagues and share ideas!" 

Nick HydeWestville House

"The keynote speakers were very inspiring and passionate. Great ideas through workshops provided".

 Carey Bennell – Russel school