Natural Connections
  • Rolle Marquee, Plymouth University

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The Natural Connections Demonstration Project has been running for three years. 

It is one of the largest outdoor learning project in the UK, working with 130 primary and secondary schools across the South West of England. Evaluation of how outdoor learning can be embedded into school life, as well as its impact on pupils, teachers and the school ethos, has been a major part of the project. 

We want to share our initial findings with you. This will also be an opportunity to hear from some of the schools involved, to network and to discuss how the learning from Natural Connections can be transferred to other settings and locations. 

All welcome - teachers, managers, educators, outdoor learning providers, students, researchers, parents and staff.


12:30 - Arrival

13:00 - Welcome (Sue Waite, Natural Connections Project Lead)

13:10 - 'The Natural Connections Project - setting the scene' (Ian Blackwell, NCDP Project Manager [Delivery])

13:20 - 'The impact of the Natural Connections approach on pupils, schools and teachers' (Sue Waite and Dr Rowena Passy, NCDP Project Manager [Evaluation])

13:50 - 'What did case studies tell us?' (Andy Edwards-Jones, Research Assistant, Plymouth University)

14:15 - Questions

14:30 - Short break

14:45 - Parallel workshop sessions (45 minutes each)

  • Workshop 1 (venue: Room 002, Rolle Building) - 'The work of the Hub Leader: in and beyond the school grounds' (Plymouth City Council Natural Infrastructure Team and The Learning Institute, Cornwall)
  • Workshop 2 (venue: Room 003, Rolle Building) - 'What Natural Connections did for us' (Siobhan Easton, Head Teacher, and Outdoor Learning Lead Teacher, Stacey Mitchell, Marine Academy Primary, Plymouth)
  • Workshop 3 (venue: Rolle Marquee) - 'Professional development: developing teachers confidence in delivering in the outdoors through a whole school approach to outdoor learning' (Michelle Roberts, Callington Community College/ARENA Schools Cornwall)

15:30 - Refreshments and networking

16:15 - Feedback: what's next?

16:30 - Ends

Please book your attendance by emailing Please note there is no parking at the University - please use public transport or nearby public car parks.

Follow the Natural Connections project on Twitter

Biography: Ian Blackwell

Ian is a Project Manager, based in the Plymouth Institute of Education, for the Natural Connections project. The project, funded by Defra, Natural England and English Heritage, and contracted to Plymouth University, is one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK. This three-year project, working in more than 130 schools across the South West, aims to significantly increase the number of school-aged children experiencing the full range of benefits that come from learning in natural environments (LINE).

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