Mrs Sue Waite

Mrs Sue Waite

Visiting Research Fellow

Plymouth Institute of Education (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



Developing and leading independent research projects on outdoor play and learning including health and wellbeing outcomes with colleagues at Plymouth University, Jonkoping University and beyond. 


BA Hons English/Psychology, Keele University

postgraduate research on developing a test of social adjustment for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, Keele

work at Economic and Social Research Council & University of Sussex

PGCE, University of Plymouth

Teaching in mainstream (including special educational needs)

Research fellow and Senior Research fellow, Faculty of Education, Plymouth University

Reader, Plymouth Institute of Education (retired 31 July 2017)

Visiting specialist in outdoor play and learning at University of Plymouth

Visiting associate professor, Jonkoping University, Sweden

Professional membership

Member of British Educational Research Association

Member of European Educational Research Association

Member of European Affective Education network 

Member of International Association for the Study of Co-operative Education network

Co-founder and member of an international research network on outdoor and experiential learning

Member of Forest School Association Research Group

Member of Natural England Strategic research group on Outdoor Learning and Outdoors for All 

Chair of Research Group of International School Grounds Alliance Leadership Council

Roles on external bodies

Member of Economic and Social Research Council Peer Review College

Member of Editorial Board of Pastoral Care in Education

Member of Editorial Board of Education 3-13

Member of Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning

Regional Editor of  Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education



Research interests

- Learning outside the classroom, especially outdoor learning in the early and primary years and issues around place and culture

- Health and well-being outcomes from being outdoors

-  Development of environmental awareness and pro environmental attitudes

- Issues around inclusive education and social justice, for example, developing curriculum guidelines for 14-16 year olds with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties, provision for students with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties,  purposes and practices in individual target setting, and person-centred perspectives and practices in relation to diversity in education

- Collaboration, critical thinking and motivation in higher education



Other research

Other research has included

    - development of audit of Early Years Provision

    - development of mathematical understanding, knowledge and skills in student teachers

     - Primary National Strategy CPD materials evaluation 

     - ICT in primary schools (Individual differences) 

      - study of out-of-county residential placement for children and young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties

     - Steiner Waldorf kindergarten practice     

     - conceptualisations of diversity

     - health and wellbeing derived from woodland activities and natural environments


Grants & contracts

*2018 Royal Society ofWildlife Trusts: Survey of international expertcommentators’ views of purposeful outdoor learning

*2017   ERASMUS +: NANOL: NurturingAffinity to Nature through Outdoor Learning in Special Places, with University of Girona as coordinator and Finland,France, Spain and Slovenia partners

* 2015 Exmoor and Dartmoor National Park Authorities: Evaluation of Moor Health and Wellbeing projects

*2015 Camping and Caravanning Club:  Perceptions of links between Camping and Education

*2014 Campaign to Protect Rural England, Devon Local Nature Partnership, Natural England:  Naturally Healthy Schools Devon           

*2014 Natural England and DEFRA:  Beyond Natural Connections: planning to optimise opportunities to add value

*2013 Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund:   Long term impacts of the Young Champion experience with Exmoor National Park Authority

*2013 Partnership funded project: Good from Woods,SNAM Alumni fund, Plymouth City Council Green Infrastructure, NaturalConnections Demonstration Project, Plymouth Community Health:  Woodland Health for Youth (WHY): physical wellbeingderived from woodland activity

*2013 Campaign for National Parks:  Mosaic Young Champions project external evaluation 

  *2012 Natural England:  Natural Connections Demonstration Project: enhancing the use of local natural environments for learning outside the classroom across the curriculum

  *2012 ESRC International Partnership and Networking award:  Understanding educational and wellbeing implications of learning outside the classroom through cross-nationalcollaboration

2012 JISC Embedding Business and Community Impact award: T racking Digital Impact (TDI) 

  *2012 Institute of Health and Community and Exmoor National Park Authority Partnership Fund:  Social and economic aspirations of young people on and around Exmoor

2012 JISC Embedding Business and Community Impact:  Interfacing Research and Impact Systems (IRIS) 

*2011 British Educational Research Association Meetingof Minds Fellowship

*2010-2014 BIGLottery Research Programme: Good from Woods: Social Cohesion and Well-being Deriving from WoodlandActivities with partners,Silvanus Trust, Neroche Scheme and Woodland Trust and other partners 

*2009-2011 Economic and Social Research Council:  Opportunities afforded by the outdoors for alternative pedagogies in children’s transition from Foundation Stage to Year 1  

*2009Sustainable Development Fund award, Exmoor National Park Authority:  Contribution of the Exmoor Curriculum to Rural Young People’s EducationalAchievement and Environmental Awareness,

  2008-9 PlymouthCity Council:  Partnership Project between University of Plymouth, University of Exeter and Plymouth Local Authority: The development of focus group methodology to access young people’s conceptualisations of diversity   

*2006 Dorset Local Authority funded

1.      Review of effectiveness of Out County Residential (OCR)provision for pupils with behavioural, emotional, and social difficulties(BESD) and development of evaluation framework for OCR provision for DorsetLocal Authority (LA).

2.      Factors that pupils with behavioural, emotional and socialdifficulties (BESD) consider make a difference to their education in Dorset’sOut County Residential (OCR) or Local Authority (LA) specialist provision.

  *2005/6 Devon Early Years Childcare DevelopmentPartnership Research Award:

1.   Current practice and aspirations in outdoor learning for 2-5 year olds in Devon.

2.   Current practice and aspirations in outdoor learning for 6-11 year olds in Devon.

3.   Forest School leaders:Identifying common principles.

4.   Exploring the concept of‘excellence’ in outdoor provision: 5 case studies.




Other academic activities


·         learning outside the classroom from early years to higher education.


·         young people’s understandings of difference in their schooldays

·         inclusive practice from multiple perspectives.