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Planning considerations

Teachers could begin planning by gathering a range of information about the outdoor education, mental health, food and nutrition, and body care and physical safety learning needs of their students and by considering whether any of the possible learning outcomes on pages 10–13 might meet these learning needs.

Some students may have a great deal of experience in the outdoors and be able to contribute their knowledge and skills by acting as peer tutors.

After discussing suitable learning outcomes with their students and with other teachers as appropriate, teachers could refer to the related learning experiences in this book and choose those activities, from here or elsewhere, that are most likely to help the students achieve their next learning steps. For example, to help them achieve the learning outcome "students will identify pressures that can influence them when working with a group and demonstrate appropriate ways of managing negative pressures", a teacher might refer to Coping with Pressure as a group, and have their students assess their own ability to cope with pressure during a competitive group activity.

Teachers should select learning experiences that are relevant to their students and that provide opportunities for them to use critical thinking, to take action to address issues, and to take responsibility for enhancing outdoor environments or for encouraging people to enjoy the outdoors. Plan student-centered activities, and use interactive and co-operative learning approaches, to enable your students to work as teams to seek solutions, information, and ideas, and to gain new skills. Consider ways in which education in the outdoors is part of a number of curriculum areas and ways in which cross-curriculum planning will reinforce students' learning.

The choice of outdoors activities will be very much influenced by the location of the school. In line with Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999), this resource suggests activities that can be carried out in the school grounds or the local environment.

Environmental education

Teachers should also consider how the aims, key concepts, and key dimensions set out in Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools can be met through outdoor education programmes based on Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum  (1999). Examples of ways in which these can be incorporated are contained on pages 26–29 of Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand Schools. (The aims are on page 9, the key concepts are on page 11, and the key dimensions are on page 14.) Page numbers refer to Guidelines for Environmental Education in New Zealand schools.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes provide a clear focus for teachers and students and describe the learning that is expected to occur as a result of particular activities. In the book, learning outcomes are linked to achievement objectives as follows.
A learning need is identified. For example, your students may need to:

  • use new skills to manage safety in an outdoor activity.

This learning outcome can be linked to level 4, strand B, achievement objective 2 and is therefore identified as related to achievement objective 4B2 (students will demonstrate willingness to accept challenges, learn new skills, and extend their abilities in movement-related activities).

Possible learning outcomes and their links to the curriculum are listed on pages 10–13. For the learning outcome described above, teachers could refer to the learning experience Facing New Challenges on page 15 within the key concept Applying Knowledge and Understanding about Safety in the Outdoors. They could assess whether students have achieved the learning outcome when the students discuss a rescue scenario in which they use new skills to rescue "lost" students.

Helping students to learn

Research into key factors that have a positive effect on students' learning (Hattie, 1999) indicates that innovative, responsive teachers can make a real difference to the achievements of their students. The single most significant factor is feedback. Teachers who provide feedback to students, giving them frequent information about how well they have understood and performed the current learning task, are giving them real, practical help that will have positive results. Students can be given feedback on their achievement of learning outcomes in the context of each of the three key areas of learning for which learning experiences are suggested in this resource.

Effective teachers give feedback; they also set specific, appropriate, and challenging goals for their students. Students who are involved in setting these learning goals and who then receive feedback while working towards them are more committed to achieving the goals and do, in fact, achieve better results. Innovation is also important. Teachers who consistently review their practices and try out new models, methods, and processes are likely to improve the quality of learning for their students.


While it is desirable that students experience challenge and enjoyment in the outdoors, safety considerations are paramount. Teachers and their students should identify safety issues and hazards during planning. Teachers should consider their own skill and experience as well as that of the class. All those who take part in outdoor education programmes should have a clear understanding of, and put into practice, the relevant safety policies and procedures (see Health and Physical Education in the New Zealand Curriculum (1999), page 46.) Information relating to safety in the outdoors is available in the EOTC community.