Social Media

You can find me on the following social media platforms...

Muddy Faces

Trail blazing as an outdoor educator Claire Bright

Outdoor Hub

How is it to be an outdoor educator in a school of people who work indoors? How can we share our practice and integrate indoor and outdoor teaching?

Claire Bright is currently studying a Masters in Outdoor Environmental Education at the University of Hertfordshire. She is also training to be a Forest School leader. She is passionate about education and outdoor creativity.

Claire’s podcast:

It is well documented that the outdoors is good for us. Well known phrases about going outside - ‘you will feel better with some fresh air’ - appear frequently in everyday language. In fact, only a few decades ago it was perfectly usual to see mothers leaving their babies in prams outside in their gardens. The journey of many holiday makers to seaside resorts also promotes the idea of fresh air for health.

Yet as an outdoor educator, there is a strange feeling of being a literal outsider. We form on the edge of the education sector, gathering together at well-meaning festivals and conferences. We are not seen as the typical classroom teacher. At a conference we meet to discuss the impact of the outdoors on our practice. For this, we limit our impact on the wider educational community. Instead of limiting our practice to the outdoor education place, we should come together to share what we do proudly. We hold back and therefore we are not making the wider changes we need to.

We face huge fears of risk and classroom educators do not always want to add to their work load by completing lengthy risk assessments or seeking parental consents. Therefore, as forward-thinking educators our impact should be more targeted. As an outdoor educator, discussing plans and ambitions with management is the place we can begin. Creative senior management, who want to approach learning differently, can help develop outdoor learning across all year groups. Be willing to share ideas and passion with everyone. We can discuss the need for outdoor learning to be integrated into all aspects of the national curriculum.

Ideas to share with your indoor colleagues!


Class walk

Pick a day once a week to go on a class walk around the school grounds. Get the children to talk with a partner about what they notice as they walk. Stop at different points of reference.

Is there a tree within the school playground? What is the name of the tree? What does it feel like? Can you spot anything living in the tree? Perhaps name the tree together as a class, it is ‘Omar The Oak Tree’.

Take a photograph on your walk with a class iPad and have a display in the classroom of the class walk. Keep and add to this throughout the year, noticing how the walk changes with the seasons. Discuss if they feel that their outside area needs any improvements.

What is your favourite place in the school outside area? Why?

Class talk

Take an opportunity when taking the register to talk about something that they have spotted on the way to school or in their garden at home. Share a photograph on the interactive whiteboard of something in nature that the class teacher has seen, such as a giant worm in their garden!


Have an ideas bank to share with any colleagues who are willing to do one of their daily lessons outside in the school grounds. Have an outdoor education ideas board in the staffroom.

For example, when learning about fairy tales, why not recreate a fairy tale amongst the trees in the school grounds?


Display nature

This can be interactive - include different bird pictures, weather symbols, tree pictures and regularly change it depending on the season and what has been seen in the school grounds.

‘Today….this bird was seen….’

Take photographs to add to this, such as when you spot a birds’ nest in the school grounds.

Tell all the staff to take photographs of anything they notice (even the caretaker who may see a fox walking across the playground!).

Children can add to the ongoing classroom display by bringing in photographs from home. Encourage parents to print off photographs of children in the class taking part in nature activities (for example if children keep animals at home - feeding or petting them, or if they are growing plants such as strawberries or vegetables).

It could become a working wall, with a thermometer for taking the daily temperature and children could record a weekly rainfall.

Below this interactive display have a table with a variety of natural objects relevant to the season such as conkers, acorns or anything the children find that they wish to share with others, like sea shells or nature-based ornaments.

Story time

Wildlife Wednesdays: pick one nature-themed book when doing story time at the end of the school day. Discuss what wildlife was in the story and whether they have seen this before in real life.


Class Assembly

Make it about a season or wildlife. Children could recite poems that they write or are famous. They could sing nature-based songs. These are easily found. Assembly could focus on conservation, recycling or the protection of a species.

Mufti Day

Instead of the usual mufti day or pyjama day, why not dress as wild animals? Get the children in the school to dress as wildlife and raise money for nature-based charities. As an alternative, you could fundraise to get more outdoor equipment or make improvements to the outside area.

Whole school

  • Think about the ethos statement of the school and whether this could include the environment, sustainability and development of protection of wildlife
  • Think about the policies of the school and whether there is mention of doing some lessons outdoors within curriculum subject policy documents
  • Make the most of what your school has to offer - the wildlife already there, the trees and any land. Look at the wider environment to see if there are woodlands or other natural spaces local to the school
  • Think about encouraging management to have CPD from expert outdoor educators to share good practice during INSET days
  • Work as a staff team to create whole school risk assessments so the work load is shared.

What we do matters, so why have we got a quieter voice?

Go out there and try and encourage one new outdoor learning experience to happen - it will make you an outdoor trailblazer.

Further reading

The Outdoor Practitioner magazine

Our themed magazines feature articles, ideas & activities to support you to work, learn & play outdoors.

- Full of contributions from real-life Outdoor Practitioners
- Perfect for Early Years, primary schools, Forest School & outdoor settings old and new

Issue 5: Risky Play Focus: available in our shop.

Issues 1-4: access online for FREE below - download or read online with our fancy flipbook tool.

To contribute to the Outdoor Practitioner magazine or reproduce one of our articles in your newsletter or magazine, email

Read More about The Outdoor Practitioner magazine


Recommended books on risk; risk in the news; reports & research; sample/template risk assessment forms.

Read More about Risk

Learning outdoors

How can we take the curriculum outdoors or integrate outdoor learning? Reports and research providing evidence of benefits; books and teaching resources; guides to creating outdoor classrooms or re-purposing playground spaces; links and media coverage.

Read More about Learning outdoors
Return to top


Keep in touch

Register to receive our free email newsletter, full of outdoor inspiration, dates, deals and competitions.