Promoting social inclusion in a primary school through Outdoor Learning
In: Minority Reports. Cultural Disability Studies, 2021
This article sets out to present the development of an inclusive educational method implemented in a primary school taking part in the Erasmus plus project GOaL (Go Out and Learn). GOaL’s innovation lies in bringing together the knowledge and experience of teachers and researchers from different institutions, but which had commonalities in terms of the school curriculum, and the need to ensure experiential outdoor practices. The GOaL project was carried out by a consortium of four higher education institutes and four primary schools from different countries, and its main objectives were to develop a common pedagogic understanding for, and practice of, curricular- based Outdoor Learning. Although the project ended with the many difficulties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, Outdoor Learning is however now widely recognised as healthier than indoor schooling, at both biological and psychological level. Furthermore, the potential of Outdoor Learning for social inclusion has been particularly documented by the GOaL’s Italian research group. This paper therefore reports empirical results on the impact of a curricular Outdoor Learning method on inclusion. Data was collected mainly through teachers’ observations of fragile pupils, and reflections on the efficacy of the outdoor activities delivered. Finally, the potential of outdoor settings for inclusion is examined through the Disability Studies approach, which questions traditional schooling for its obstacles in welcoming diversity in every learner. The evidence-based findings indicate that an Outdoor Learning method can lead a school community towards a transformative process, through the design of an inclusive school environment that is instead able to meet all pupils’ needs.