What is Outdoor Education?

Outdoor education usually refers to organized learning in an outdoor setting. Outdoor Learning has become a more contemporary term for arguably the same thing, but it reflects well the distinction between discovery/active learning (which Ardroy promotes) and didactic education, which is more the domain of mainstream education.

Outdoor education programmes usually involve residential or journey-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous, memorable challenges. The many positive benefits of experiencing community living in a residential environment should also be mentioned.


Outdoor education can be simply described as experiential learning in the outdoors. The term "outdoor education", however, is widely used to refer to a range of organised activities, which take place in a variety of ways, in predominantly outdoor environments.


Some typical aims of outdoor education are to:

  • Develop a deeper relationship with nature;
  • Enhance personal and social development;
  • Learn how to overcome adversity and increase resilience.

We were featured on the BBC Radio Scotland 'Out of Doors' programme, talking about the benefits of Outdoor Education. The webpage for the programme is here, and you can listen to the report on our SoundCloud page here.


Modern outdoor education owes its beginnings to a number of separate initiatives. As well as the Scouting movement, established in 1907, roots are also found in the first Outward Bound Centre which was established in 1941 in Aberdovey. Derbyshire Council opened the first local authority centre in the UK in 1951. There is a rather good article about the development of Outdoor Education on Wikipedia here.

The Future

The Curriculum for Excellence which went live in Scotland in Sept 2009, has identified the value of both outdoor and active learning. Ardroy was involved at a consultation level with these new developments. For more info please follow this link to resources on the Education Scotland Website.

Liz Smith MSP, is currently working on a private members bill in the Scottish Parliament which would make an outdoor residential an entitlement for every child in Scotland during their academic career. Ardroy was involved in the writing of the consultation document. Exciting times for the industry! To find out more go here.