What are the advantages and disadvantages of teaching outside?

Posted: Jun 25 2015

Summer is officially upon us here in the UK. What a great excuse to get the children into the sunshine and out of the classroom.  Over the last number of years there has been a noticeable decrease in the amount of time children spend outside. With the use computers and television ever increasing in popularity children no longer feel the need to go out to chat or play with their friends. 

There are shocking realities such as children that have never seen a real life farmyard animal!

We did some digging inside to find out the advantages of teaching outside and whether they outweigh the disadvantages or not.  

The advantages of teaching outside:

There are numerous research articles written by doctors, scientists and mental health experts explaining the benefits for children who spend more time learning outside. We have taken the points that detail the advantages of children being outside and listed them below. If you would like to read more detailed information that support these claims please follow the links at the bottom of this article. 

  • Children who spend more time outdoors make more friends.
  • Learning outside improves attitudes to learning.
  • Creates a more active imagination.
  • Children who spend time outdoors are generally happier than those who stay indoors.
  • Time outside increases focus on tasks.
  • There are many obstacles to overcome when outdoors which boosts problem solving skills.
  • Time outside improves mental wellbeing and self-esteem.
  • Freedom outdoors can reduce aggression.
  • It reduces obesity as children that learn to love the outdoors continue to do so in adult life.

The disadvantages of teaching outside:

There are of course disadvantages to teaching outside. These are all points that can be overcome, but they will require additional work. 

  • Health & Safety regulations – As a teacher you are responsible for the children in your class. There are certain health and safety regulation that you must follow to ensure the safety of your pupils and yourself. The health and safety executive (HSE) legislation can be found here
  • Additional paper work – Rise assessment plans, consent and evaluation forms will be required your school should already have school forms you can use. 
  • Following curriculum requirements – For some subjects such as maths or science it can be difficult to study outside and maintaining the curriculum requirements. It could be as simple as taking your class onto the school field.
  • Weather – Not having the correct clothing when the weather takes a turn for the worst could prevent outdoor activities. In this case you can remind the children the day before to bring appropriate clothing for the outdoors.
  • Supervision – The UK Department for Education state that the school is responsible for assessing and managing the risks. To find out more click here
  • Natural Hazards such as Bee’s or uneven ground – as long as the appropriate health and safety aspects have been adhered to you do not need to worry about these types of accidents. It is inevitable that something will happen e.g. a child tripping over a stone. You will need to check out the area you are visiting beforehand so you will already be aware of the potential hazards. 


The Guardian
Psychology Today
Teaching Times
Creative Education