This Intellectual Output is being led by WeST and there will be a requirement for a more senior member of staff to oversee some aspects of compiling the handbook, based upon the Output steering group's work. Similarly a small amount of administrative time has been included to support the teaching staff in compiling, presenting and submitting their work.
A Natural Schooling Project Handbook will be produced in order to provide a shared understanding of the principles, aspirations and practices of natural schooling.
To provide context it will: (i) outline the research and previous practitioner experiences in order to demonstrate how natural schooling can provide learning and wellbeing benefits for learners; (ii) offer definitions of what natural schooling is; (iii) set out the aspirations for 21st century learner outcomes as a global citizen; and (iv) identify ways of how natural schooling can be incorporated into the curriculum.
It will set out a rationale for the identification and perceived benefits to different sub-groups of learners. It will establish a common process to capture the improvements brought about by the innovations. It will provide a methodology for the design of the curriculum innovation research projects and a process for gathering evidence /data that can show change in the learning or well-being outcomes for the identified sub group of learners. These means seek to ensure that there is parity in the way that each partner manages their innovation, and can report on its impact in a commonly agreed and consistently and reliable assessed way. This approach to data gathering will help in the process of sharing findings from the project with a wide audience and thus help address the request of researchers for more data and increased dissemination.
This handbook will initially enable partners to bring together the baseline work for starting the project. It is also designed to have a lasting legacy and become a valuable tool to provide guidance and information to schools and other organisations seeking to bring about similar innovation. It will also contribute to education practitioners responding to the call by leading academic researchers for data sets for different forms of outdoor learning activities that are delivered in different cultural contexts.
An eminent Danish Researcher who specialises in Outdoor Learning and Education [Karen Barford, Senior lecturer at VIA University College, Denmark] will be engaged to guide the development of this handbook by partners on the project.
This handbook will also join with the Natural Schooling Resource Bank (Intellectual Output 5), the Natural Schooling Research Evaluation Report (Intellectual Output 6) and the Natural Schooling Training Programme (Intellectual Output 7) to form the material made public at the end of the project. The project team is committed to using the Creative Commons approach to ensure that material is freely accessed and cannot be used later for any individual profit.
The project will be advised and informed by Karen Barfod of VIA University College, Denmark, a leading expert in nature schooling. Led by WeST, all partners will contribute to the work on the framework for investigation and to the methodology. There will then be individual sections on the proposed projects from each partner. The Natural Schooling Project Handbook will also include a glossary of agreed common terms and of terms specific to each setting. A set of academic sources will be included to help readers understand the thinking which has led to the chosen innovations.
This output is crucial to the delivery of subsequent outputs and so particular attention will be given to expert advice and quality assurance. A small amount of administrative support will help to ensure that teachers have the output ready for the piloting phase.
In order to embraces the principles and values of Natural Schooling and bring about positive changes to learning and/or wellbeing to a specified sub group of learners through an agenda to incorporate natural schooling into the curriculum, the early stage of the project will require the design and development of a bespoke natural schooling curriculum innovation project by each partner.
This output is therefore concerned with:
• Providing the rationale for each bespoke natural schooling curriculum project (i.e. justification of which learner subgroup it is concerned with; desired learner and/or wellbeing outcomes for that subgroup)
• Design and creation of an appropriate natural schooling curriculum innovation relevant to addressing the above
• Making available the information and materials derived as an outcome from this work as models for schools and other organisations seeking to do similar work.
Once briefed though a training meeting, the partners will work independently to establish their rationale and then design their innovation materials. Parity for the projects (e.g. size, scale quality of learning.
The methodology set out in the Natural Schooling Project Handbook (Outcome1) will guide the design for the natural schooling curriculum innovation materials. A lead teacher from each partner will take responsibility to lead the work on the natural schooling curriculum innovation in their school (i.e. planning, creating).
A lead partner (Bromangymnasiet) will coordinate this work overall. Over the period of the pilot they will:
• Check on the parity and progress of design of each bespoke natural schooling project
• Collate the information from all partners about the design and development of each bespoke natural schooling curriculum innovation
Management time is allocated to quality assurance work on this output. Administrative time will be used in bringing together resources and presenting work carried out by teaching.
The purpose of this training programme is to equip teachers, leaders and other staff engaged in natural schooling innovation with the knowledge and skills they will need to be effective in leading change in learning and well-being. It will be designed to link with the professional development structures in the partner countries including any teaching and/or leadership standards.
This will be a modular course with guidance to potential participants in choosing their route based on assessment of their prior learning and experience. The course will be piloted in the partner schools and used to develop staff to run the project. Each partner will provide a lead trainer to help design and run the training programme for the project. It will be made available after the conclusion of the project as an online programme designed for tutor-supported use by other organisations.
Target groups include:
• Teachers, school leaders, curriculum planners
• Education officers in environment, heritage and countryside organisations which work with schools or run public education programmes
i. Values and principles behind natural schooling: a short introduction to concepts of natural schooling and its link to global citizenship; self and organisational review activities to explore values-led leadership/practice; well-being for children and staff as a core aim for natural schooling.
ii. Understanding about environmental issues and sustainability: core subject knowledge programme to enhance understanding of environmental issues to support natural schooling; designed to link to current aspects of environment and sustainability in the school curriculum of each partner country.
iii. Developing critical thinking in learners: teaching skills development course to help participants understand how to plan and teach in a way that develops learners’ capacity for critical thinking; focus on metacognition and the impact of peer-to-peer learning; review of project teaching methods.
iv. Guidance in curriculum design including problem solving to overcome barriers to change: curriculum planning workshops; investigation of potential barriers to the successful implementation of the project; programme to enhance participants’ problem-solving skills; personal and organisational action planning.
v. Developing skills in planning and managing outdoor learning including health and safety, and risk management: core training in how to plan outdoor activities; risk assessment and health and safety guidance; communication with colleagues, parents and outside organisations; safe and effective use of equipment; developing leadership and responsibility in young people.
This programme will be planned to link to awards and training standards in partner countries. The purpose of this is both to align the programme with accepted frameworks for staff development, and to ensure that it can be used as part of personal progression for participants. Partners developing this programme will use the relevant benchmark standards for teacher training and for academic and professional study to ensure that content and aims are suitably challenging. Links will be made to programmes of further study in each partner country to help direct participants who wish to use the project training as the basis for higher qualifications.
It will also join with the Natural Schooling Project Handbook (Intellectual Output 1), the Natural Schooling Resource Bank (Intellectual Output 5), and the Natural Schooling Research
Evaluation Report (Intellectual Output 6) to form the material made public at the end of the project. The project team is committed to using the Creative Commons approach to ensure that material is freely accessed and cannot be used later for any individual profit.
WeST will lead this output supported by staff members from each partner. WeST has very extensive experience in the design and delivery of training programmes including undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses, apprenticeships and research-led project. WeST staff will organise a detailed schedule of tasks with advice from other partner representatives. This output will be managed largely through online communication between partners but key staff will work together during transnational meetings. Staff working on this output will engage closely with partner staff working on the other outputs. There will also be a specific link with staff working on IO4 and IO5 since the training needs to be supported through online platforms and to have accessible training materials.
Main tasks will include: (i) agreement of levels and links to relevant professional standards in each partner country, (ii) design of core content of the five key areas that make up the training, (iii) forming a course committee to manage the training programme, (iv) organising writing and piloting linked to IO 3, (v) establishing progression routes in each partner country for participants wishing to extend their studies, and (vi) ensuring that the programme remains accessible as part of the legacy of the project.
The methodology behind this output is based on the Natural Schooling core principles and on the agreed standards for training teachers and leaders.
This Output includes ethical assurance and quality assurance and so requires some specific management time. Similarly it will involve collating and handling data for which some administrative resource will be required.
A research evaluation report will be produced which summarises the outcomes of the project for wider dissemination and contributes to European and global knowledge about the impacts of natural schooling. The production of this report will guide the content of multiplier and dissemination events within the project.
It will report on the objectives of the project and focus on core themes:
The presence and influence of natural schooling in the school curricula for the participating schools, and the barriers to its representation in the curriculum.
The extent to which natural schooling innovations are demonstrating enhanced learning and/or well-being outcomes for the sub groups of learners involved and with particular focus on how learners develop competencies and attributes for 21st Century living. The impact on teachers’ practice and well-being.
The development of engagement with the school curriculum and learners’ learning by the wider community.
Evaluation of the use and effectiveness of the cross European sharing of information and data about natural environments between learners and teachers involved in the project.
The report will provide a context statement about the current development of natural schooling in the education systems of the countries/local authorities of participating schools. It will include the justification for the selection of different sub-groups of learners by partners both in the context of each specific partner and with consideration of international research literature relating to that sub-group. It will include a review of issues concerning partners’ links with their communities in the development of natural schooling.
The use of a common means of collecting data about learning and well-being which link to internationally recognised PISA methods. These will be agreed by partners as part of Output
01 Research Context Handbook.
The definition of learner groups within the schools of each partner which will undertake altered curriculum and teaching approaches as part of the project. This will include a base line survey of the learning and well-being for each sub-group of learners. This is an evaluative project designed to test and demonstrate aspects of learning and teaching based on current research. It will therefore not make use of randomised control trials in the interventions that partner schools undertake. All learners in participating groups will have access to the activities. The data for some defined sub-groups will be analysed separately to determine the specific impact on these groups.
More detailed investigation of particular teaching models and/or the experience of different sub-groups of learners will be undertaken though case studies. These will be produced on a common framework which will be designed to link to education research practices in the partners’ countries. The format, focus and number of case studies will be agreed by the participants in Output 01.
The gathering of data, its analysis and dissemination for the project will follow a model of research ethics agreed by the participants in Output 01. This will follow accepted international principles of practitioner-led research in education. It will ensure confidentiality within the project of the identities of individuals, and anonymity of learners in any wider dissemination and in this research evaluation report. Partners will undertake this project with the agreed common principle of informed participation by all teachers and learners.
The method used to undertake this data gathering and to form this report, and the impact data for the objectives above will be subject to critical review by a recognised authority in the development of outdoor learning and the concepts behind natural schooling. They will act as external reviewer for the project and the main parts of their report will be included in this Research Evaluation Report.
The findings of the project published in this report will be used to inform academic research and kindle wider interest in natural schooling amongst a community of stakeholders/researchers across Europe and the rest of the world. They will include guidance and recommendations for other school leaders and teachers to follow, develop and adapt. It will also join with the Natural Schooling Project Handbook (Output 1), the Natural Schooling Resource Bank (Output 5) and the Natural Schooling Training Programme (Output7) to form the material made public at the end of the project. The project team is committed to using the Creative Commons approach to ensure that material is freely accessed and cannot be used later for any individual profit.
Beyond the Erasmus+ means of publication and dissemination, we will seek to publish in an academic journal and to ensure that links are made with teacher and school leader publications at least in participating countries. Each partner will also use local, regional and national links for wider dissemination.
WeST will lead this output supported by staff members from each partner. WeST has extensive experience in the managing academic research evaluation projects. WeST staff will organise a detailed schedule of tasks with advice from other partner representatives. This output will be managed largely through online communication between partners but key staff will work together during transnational meetings. Staff working on this output will engage closely with partner staff working on the other outputs with particular reference to IO1 and IO5 to ensure that the process of data gathering, analysis and dissemination is planned and delivered seamlessly.
Main tasks will include: (i) establishing an ethics panel within the project team, (ii) ensuring copyright are addressed, (iii) working with partner staff from IO1 to define the research methodology, (iv) building the data gathering process and timetable with other project partner staff, (v) informing all staff and learners/parents about the research process, (vi) establishing links for later publication.
The methodology behind this output is based on the Natural Schooling core principles and on education/social science research framework such as British Education Research
Association and other relevant ones from partner countries. The staff leading this output will ensure that ethical procedures are followed where material produced in other outputs is made available publicly.