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The Value Outdoor Learning Can Bring to Tutoring - May '18

Posted By Ruth Palomino, 11 May 2018

By Oliver Blomfield, Head of Summer Adventures at The Outward Bound Trust

The Outward Bound Trust is an educational charity with a mission to unlock the potential of young people through experiential outdoor learning. Here Oliver Blomfield, Head of Summer Adventures at Outward Bound® explains the value and lasting benefits of outdoor learning and how this relates to tutoring.

As a tutor, you work at the front line encouraging, developing and helping students to achieve their best and will be aware of many ways to motivate your students. Increasingly, evidence shows that taking learners outside the classroom can make a lasting impact on how they see themselves and how they learn.

Who we are
The Outward Bound Trust uses the outdoors to help develop young people from all walks of life. From our six residential centres in the Lake District, Snowdonia and the Highlands, we run challenging outdoor learning courses that equip young people with valuable skills for education, work and life. Last year over 25,000 young people took part in one of our courses and we provided financial support to 80% of them so that their families’ financial situation was no barrier to their taking part.

In the summer, our open enrolment programmes attract a mix of international students (30%) and young people from all kinds of backgrounds from across the UK. Our summer adventures last 7 or 19 days and all are designed to increase confidence, resilience and team-work.

What we do
Our programmes combine challenging outdoor adventures with periods of individual reflection. Young people leave Outward Bound with increased self-confidence, tenacity and perseverance. We help them to set and achieve goals, listen and communicate effectively, develop determination, especially in the face of challenging circumstances and maintain a positive outlook when things get tough. All of this is underpinned by an emphasis on co-operation and collaboration, so that individual and team work are valued and practised. Effective leadership skills are an important aspect of what participants learn.

Our founder, the German educationalist Kurt Hahn, passionately believed that we can all achieve more than we think and this idea will resonate with any tutor struggling to get the best from their students.

How we do it
Using well-established educational theories such as Kolb’s Learning Cycle, Adair’s Leadership model and Dweck’s Growth Mindset, participants are taken on a physical and metaphorical journey through a series of experiential exercises. Learning is active and designed to address student and school needs, with the concept of individualised learning within a group context taking pole position.
Our instructors are an important part of the story, as they are all dual-qualified in the technical skills needed to operate within a challenging wilderness environment, as well as in facilitation and teaching techniques. Teaching qualifications are built upon with specialist skills such as advanced degrees in learning and development.

The benefits of what we do
Our inspirational courses have been shown to have a profound impact on the future success of individuals in both education and employment, and on their overall wellbeing. We don’t just assume results: we measure the value and lasting impact of our work through our independently verified research and we publish the results in Outward Bound’s Social Impact Report.

Our report of 2017 showed that experiencing one of our courses empowers young people to make positive changes in their lives and to thrive in their education, training and at work. 91% of participants scored higher for confidence in interacting with others at the end of their course, while both parents and teachers reported significant positive changes. Average scores in self-management, including planning, organising and goal-setting also showed improvements in more than 60% of participants.

Back in school, over 80% of teachers reported that pupils were more likely to seek out opportunities to challenge themselves and put more effort into their studies and 69% said that students’ goals were more constructive.

With results as good as these, encouraging your students to take part in one of our courses could be a hugely positive tool in your repertoire for developing their prospects.

Special offer for The Tutors’ Association: ask your students to quote TA10 to receive 10% off their summer adventure. Find out more on the Outward Bound website (

Oliver Blomfield is Head of Summer Adventures at The Outward Bound Trust. Outward Bound is an educational charity whose mission is to inspire young people to defy their limitations, so that they become strong, resilient and curious, ready for the challenges of life. Oliver heads up their Summer Adventures open enrolment team, encouraging young people to take control of their summer and achieve something truly remarkable!

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