Learning Outside Formal Education: current and completed projects

Aerial panorama view to city of Banjul, Gambia

International trips

Plymouth Institute of Education offers different international trips for students during the course of the year. Read here on the ways in which a sample of students from the 2017/18 academic year engaged with and learned from the trips to the Gambia, Fredonia and Prague.

ESRC International Partnership and Network Award

Sue Waite and Dr Rowena Passy led the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded network ‘Understanding educational and wellbeing implications of learning outside the classroom through cross-national collaboration’. Partners in this award were from Australia, Singapore and Denmark.


Natural Connections Demonstration Project 

Commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England and English Heritage, the £600,000 Natural Connections Demonstration Project led by Sue Waite, Rowena Passy and Ian Blackwell aims to encourage and support schools in building learning outdoors into their everyday practice. Through a model of cascaded responsibility in five areas of high deprivation in the south-west of England, the project has recruited 125 schools, and a further 70 schools have been involved in teacher continuing professional development events. Schools have been involved in a wide range of activities that include developing sustainable approaches to learning outside. Early project research findings from teachers suggest that learning outside engages pupils with learning, has a positive impact on their behaviour, develops children’s social skills, and improves their health and wellbeing. There is also some evidence that these foundational aspects to learning contribute to higher attainment.

Children living, working and learning on the street in Nepal and Mongolia

Dr Julia Morgan has been conducting participative research with children living working and learning on the street in Zambia and Mongolia since 2010. This project has important implications for research involving children and has resulted in a number of publications, including collaborative work with Tumendelger Sengedorj of the Mongolian State University of Education, Mongolia.

The Significance and Survival of Occupy Movement’s Tent City University

This project is funded by British Academy/Leverhulme. It focuses on Tent City University, an alternative university set up by the Occupy Movement at its protest camp at St Paul’s Cathedral London. Through life histories the project explores what it was like to be part of Tent City University, how it differed from other forms of learning in their lives and how it continues to live on in their lives in multiple ways. The project is led by Professor Jocey Quinn

Comparing and Analysing Teacher Expertise: CATE

Dr Pete Kelly, Dr Nick Pratt and Dr Ulrike Hohmann have been working on a longitudinal comparative research project since 2010. With colleagues from Aarhus University, Denmark and Freiberg Pedagogic University in Germany they have been exploring how culture shapes pedagogy in lower secondary classrooms across UK, Denmark and Germany.

Image: Plymouth Music Zone Sensory Room

Beyond Words

This two-year longitudinal project is one of only eight national projects funded by the prestigious Arts Council Research Grants Programme. In partnership with community music organisation Plymouth Music Zone it explores how learning music can facilitate communication and wellbeing for those who struggle to be understood in words: including those with dementia, autism, strokes and mental illness. It explores the non-verbal in music making and implications for the Arts in a post human world. The project is led by Professor Jocey Quinn and Claudia Blandon. 

Public Good in an Era of Privatisation and Individualism

Ruth Boyask has received funding from British Academy/Leverhulme and BELMAS to critically explore the nature of the public good in an era of educational privatisation and individualism.