Beyond the Classroom - Overcoming Social Distancing Through Outdoor Learning

NOW IS THE TIME FOR OUTDOOR LEARNING. The evidence demonstrates that teaching outside is not only safest in the current crisis, but enhances the wellbeing of teachers and learners whilst improving enjoyment of learning and attainment. This event will show you how to use whatever outdoor space you have available for creative, curriculum-linked teaching and learning.

  • This event has been designed to help you 1) Provide an even safer learning environment for your pupils 2) Promote the health and wellbeing of your staff and pupils 3) Learn the strategies, tips and tools to not just survive, but THRIVE in this new era of teaching and learning.

  • Using evidence based teaching methods that enhance a range of outcomes for children, we will show you how to use your outdoor spaces for extraordinary teaching and learning.

  • There won’t be a lack of ‘academic rigour’, this will be enhancing and enriching the curriculum through ‘learning by doing’ and using your outdoor space as a teaching resource.

  • This event is for schools who are passionate about developing and improving their practice; who see a bigger vision for education; a desire to create the conditions for confident, happy and healthy children.

  • This event will bring together a global network of experts and passionate educators who’s purpose is to support one another during these challenging times. JOIN THIS NETWORK.

Join us online from

17th Aug
We will start releasing content daily from the 17th August for 2 weeks, enabling you to factor the advice into your planning for the school return.
Live seminars will be scheduled in advance and recorded for playback at anytime. You will have lifetime access to all of the content featured during this event. 


See what other have to say about our previous events...

Why should you attend this event and what can you expect from it?

  • Creating a safe learning environment in the Covid era, how?

  • Ensuring that congested schools work (within the constraints of social distancing)

  • Covid risk of transmission in schools: What do we know now?

  • Making the outdoors our friend and ally

  • Reconnecting: Starting the new school year for success

  • Shifting mindsets from classrooms to ‘spaces for learning’

  • Tapping in to the true potential of school grounds

  • Providing simple, innovative and effective ideas for teaching outside

  • Exploring the intersections between play and learning

  • Creating healthier and happier pupils outside, how and why?

  • Ensuring that there is no going back – embedding the changes

  • Building a community offering advice, discussion groups and personalised support for your school

  • Character Education: Using the outdoor environment for personal and emotional development

  • Climate change and sustainability: Our role as educators in this new educational paradigm

  • SEND provision: Expanding the classroom

  • Early years ideas and inspiration


We're updating this page regularly as new speakers are confirmed

Live Seminars

Conference Welcome & Setting Up For Outdoor Learning Success

Monday 17th August 10:00 – 11:00

Andy and Mike will set the scene for how to get the most out of the event. In addition they will share with you their top tips for successful outdoor learning in schools based on their experience of working with hundreds of schools across the UK.

Tim Gill: Breathing Space: How outdoor learning and play can help children and teachers as your school reopens.

Monday 17th August, 14:00 – 15:30

Tim is an independent scholar, advocate and consultant on childhood. He focuses on the changing nature of children’s play and free time, and their evolving relationships with the people and places around them. His work cuts across public policy, education, child care, planning, transport, urban design and playwork. It engages with academics, practitioners, policy makers, the media and the wider public. Tim’s live seminar will focus on:

  • Real risks of Covid transmission amongst children based the most up to date information from the epidemiologists
  • The two approaches schools are taking in the UK around managing Covid
  • Imperial research demonstrating the effects of lockdown on children, and strategies to support them to best effect back in the school environment 

Katherine ForseyDr Katherine Forsey: Early Years Ideas and Inspiration

Wednesday 19th August, 10:00-11:30

Katherine is an experienced Education and Outreach Consultant and Outdoor Learning Specialist. Katherine has created outdoor learning programmes for a wide range of organisations, including The Yorkshire Arboretum and the Woodland Trust. She has worked outdoors with over 20,000 children within their own settings or on educational visits.

As an accredited CPD Lead Facilitator, Katherine develops and delivers a range of comprehensive and engaging CPD sessions and packages for settings, schools, training organisations and local authorities across the UK. Katherine is a Chartered Science Teacher, member of the ASE and IOL. She regularly presents workshops and keynote presentations at national education conferences. Katherine publishes articles in education journals, lesson plans and resources to support learning outside the classroom.  

This session will include:

  • Ideas and inspiration for learning outdoors across the EYFS seven areas of learning
  • Making best use of existing, free and accessible resources
  • Child-initiated learning outdoors via ‘sparks’
  • Exploring opportunities to get outdoors for popular EYFS topics or themes
  • Using well-known stories to inspire learning outdoors

Opportunities to share ideas and ask questions.

Katherine ForseyDr Katherine Forsey: Teaching Primary Maths Outdoors

Thursday 20th August 10:00 – 11:30

In her second session for the Beyond the Classroom Conference, we have invited Katherine to deliver a ‘how to’ workshop providing ideas and inspiration for bringing the KS1 and KS2 maths curriculum to life outdoors. The session has been created for those new to teaching maths outdoors, but there will be plenty of practical ideas for everyone.

This session will include:

  • Hands-on outdoor maths challenges – you will need quick and easy access to a familiar outdoor space such as your own garden or street for part of the session and either a paper bag, recycled plastic carrier bag or tray, and a piece of paper and a pencil
  • Ideas and inspiration for teaching primary maths outdoors including number, measurement, geometry, statistics and algebra
  • Free access to a selection of maths lesson plans from the SOuL Learning Outside the Classroom Handbook
  • Making best use of existing, free and accessible resources
  • Identifying opportunities to link maths and science outdoors
  • Opportunities to share ideas and ask questions.


Eva Bishop: Nature, Children and the Climate Emergency

Thursday 20th August, 14:00 – 15:30

Alarmingly, Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, where extinction rates are soaring, and record-breaking floods and droughts are the new norm. The effects of climate and ecological breakdown threaten our global life support systems and our children’s future.

For some, an awakening from our slumber has begun, but widespread change in how we raise and educate our progeny is slow to come. We are running out of time and our mission is urgent. We must reconnect our young with the natural world that sustains them, to help them to understand and feel the deep integration between all life and its fragility. If we hurt nature, we hurt ourselves.

It is time to be bold and courageous in our action, giving our children the truth and the tools with which to grow their resilience.  Join Eva Bishop to discuss how we might prepare the coming generation to care for and be part of their ecological inheritance. Together we will explore how teachers can use practical methods for outdoor learning at school and use these settings to connect with nature and the future.

John Newton: Teaching Primary Literacy Outdoors

Friday 21st August, 10:00-11:00 (PART 1), 13:00-14:00 (PART 2)

Do you ever feel like your teaching of literacy is becoming repetitive? 

Do you sometimes struggle for fresh and innovative ways to engage your learners in literacy? 

Can it feel like you are constantly persuading and cajoling your learners to read or write for longer periods?

Then join me for a fun and interactive workshop, focusing on the potential that learning beyond the classroom can have on invigorating you and your learners. We’ll be discussing topics, including:

  • Translating a text-based focus into outdoor learning
  • Planning for productive, co-operative learning
  • Resource-free or resource-light outdoor learning ideas
  • Tackling the technical aspects of reading and writing through learning beyond the classroom. 


The workshop will be split into two virtual seminars, with a fun and creative task to undertake in between. If attending, you will need access to outdoor space, such as your garden or a local area of natural interest to help you put some of the ideas shared into practice.

John Newton: Vulnerable Learners Outside the Classroom: Success, Freedom & Achievement

Monday 24th August, 14:00 – 15:30

John has been a teacher for twenty years, five of which he spent as Head Teacher of Barrow 1618 CofE Primary Free School, in Shropshire and as a school improvement officer. 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. 

Creating Greater Freedom for Vulnerable Learners. This session will include:

  • Why traditional modes off education are less effective for this cohort
  • Creating greater freedom and independence in learning, how and why
  • Achieving more than what is possible, approaches, ideas and strategies

Helen Spring Helen Spring: Teaching Primary Science Outdoors

Wednesday 26th August, 14:00 – 15:30

Helen is a Primary Science and Outdoor Learning Consultant based in North Yorkshire.  As an experienced primary school teacher and CPD leader, Helen delivers networks for primary science subject leaders in Greater Manchester, Stoke and North Yorkshire, as well as being a Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) hub leader.  Helen leads outdoor learning workshops for children, in addition to this, Helen creates lesson plans which support outdoor learning, and has written numerous articles and contributed to published books and resources.  Helen is a member of the ASE Primary Committee, Reviews Editor for Primary Science, ASE Futures, CLEAPSS and the Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL).

This session will include:

  • Understanding the characteristics of effective outdoor learning
  • Discussion about Forest Schools and primary science
  • Exploration of how to teach and use the 5 types of enquiry and Working Scientifically skills outdoors
  • Consideration of how Subject Knowledge curriculum objectives can be taught in the outdoor setting
  • Discussion about Health and Safety outdoors
  • Exploration of assessment and recording in the outdoor setting.

Hot Seat: Problem Solving Clinic

Thursday 27th August, 14:00 – 16:00

Hosted by Andy and Mike, bring along the barriers and challenges which are preventing you from having success with outdoor learning at your school. For example these may be:

  • Time
  • Money
  • Attitudes of fellow staff or parents
  • Lack of equipment

Get insight, advice, support and encouragement from the conference community to help you overcome these barriers. You will have time dedicated solely to your issue and hear success stories from others on how they have overcome similar problems.


Conference Close: Next Steps for Maximum Impact

Sunday 30th August 10:00 – 11:00

Andy and Mike will help you develop an effective action plan for implementing the changes you would like to see in your school environment.

You will:

  • Reflect on all you have taken from the conference
  • Highlight the key areas of focus and priority to bring about the best learning environment and educational experience for your pupils.
  • Join the support network provided by the conference community
  • Look forward to returning to the school return

Need to knows:

This is an online event providing pre-recorded and live content:

                    • New content will be released daily

                    • We will share a links to new content that will allow you to view in your own time

                    • Live seminars will be scheduled in advance and will be recorded for playback in your own time

                    • You will have lifetime access to the material created for this event

Take a look at our event from last year...