Using outdoor activities to support traumatised children. By Elsa Bouillard


This assignment represents the final project of a Foundation Degree in Therapeutic Childcare for Children and Young People I undertook as part of my initial contract at The Mulberry Bush School (MBS). It is an action research project, consisting in identifying an area in my work I would like to investigate, putting an intervention in place related to my original interest, then analysing and discussing the results of this intervention. This project aims at identifying areas of development in my practice and within the school.

I am a therapeutic childcare practitioner at the MBS, a children’s home and residential school based in Oxfordshire and providing “care, education and therapy to primary aged children who have emotional and behavioural problems due to trauma and attachment difficulties stemming from early childhood experiences” (MBS Admission and Discharge policy, 2018, p.1). My role specifically caters to the children’s home aspect of the MBS, and I am part of the team – called “the Burrow” – working with the “52 week children”, or the children with no parents of carers to go to during school holidays.

In both my personal and professional life, I have always found that outdoor activities can have a significant impact on a person’s ability to overcome personal obstacles. Outdoor adventurous activities can be as difficult as they are rewarding. They can be physically challenging and yet help someone focus on their functioning behaviours – rather than their dysfunctional ones – and raise self-advocacy. One could write about the multiple benefits of outdoor learning for pages, yet in this paper I intend to focus on the use of outdoor learning as a therapeutic tool, transforming it into outdoor therapy, at the MBS. In order to explain why I think outdoor therapy would benefit children at the MBS, I will first draw attention to what outdoor learning is, as well as demonstrate its benefits and limitations by exploring the current theories on the topic in Part 1 of this assignment. The rest of the paper will focus more closely on my action research project, looking at how outdoor adventurous activities can be used therapeutically to support traumatized children in a residential setting such as the MBS. Part 2 of this assignment will thus focus on the methodology I used to undertake my action research project. Part 3 will display my findings while Part 4 will show my analysis of these findings. Finally, I shall conclude by reflecting on both my process doing this project and the way this project impacted my practice.

Part 1 – Key theories on the therapeutic effect of the outdoors – from outdoor learning to adventure therapy.

In a research project for the Institute for Outdoor Learning, Greenaway (2005) describes outdoor learning as a wide concept including outdoor play, discovery, experiential learning or adventurous activities – all involving a form of active learning outdoors, valuing direct experience and benefiting mental and social development. There is abundant research documenting the benefits of outdoor learning in schools. Indeed, the House of Commons (2010) recognizes the necessity for teachers and staff working in education to be trained in outdoor learning and it launched a ‘Teaching outside the classroom’ scheme in 2006 to enable this. The Department for Education and Skills implemented this scheme while advocating for the importance of experiential education: “This is not only about what we learn but importantly how and where we learn. […] The potential for learning is maximised if we use the powerful combination of physical, visual and naturalistic ways of learning as well as our linguistic and mathematical intelligence.”(2006, p.2) In their Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto , they add that educational benefits of such practice include improving academic achievement, developing skills and independence in various environments, developing the ability to deal with uncertainty, reducing behaviour problems and improving attendance, providing challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk, among others (2006, p.3). Further studies show how much regular outdoor learning particularly improves academic achievement in reading, mathematics and science (Quibell, Charlton, and Law, 2017). Spending more time outdoors therefore puts an emphasis on the relationship children develop with nature while still part of a more formal educational setting, developing and reinforcing their wellbeing in their relationship with themselves, as well as with others – staff and children alike.

At the Mulberry Bush School, designated times and spaces have been put in place to implement schemes such as the ‘Learning outside the classroom’ scheme or the ‘Learning away’ scheme – the latter, endorsed by the Department for Education, is implemented by a group of public and private organisations working with children and young people promoting outdoor residential learning experiences (Kendall and Rodger, 2015). More precisely, at the MBS, the curriculum includes outdoor learning in the following way: “All classes have a weekly session on a Friday. This will be timetabled as an outdoor learning day to combine ‘GET OUT’, ‘Forest Schools’ or ‘PAWS’ sessions with learning outside the classroom curriculum. This would typically look like half a day spent on one of the above sessions and then the rest of the day focusing on an alternative outdoors curriculum that is appropriate for the outdoor learning stage of the child.” (MBS Curriculum policy, 2019, p.10) The ‘GET OUT’ group aims at the newest pupils at the school and encourages them to participate actively in outdoor activities, following elementary safety rules. This group works towards developing the skills required to join forest school sessions. Forest school happens on a longer-term basis, takes place in a local natural space and focuses on planning, adapting to and observing the natural world. Finally, P.A.W.S., an acronym for Play Adventure Wilderness Skills, is the next organic step from forest school. Children will have gone through both GET OUT and forest school and be ready to broaden their knowledge and skills, including geography, science and history but also expanding to orienteering, climbing, den building or recognizing local wildlife. (MBS Curriculum policy, 2019)

In addition to this weekly outdoor learning part of the curriculum, the MBS organises, as part of the Learning Away scheme, an ‘Outward bound’ week in the autumn. Just like with the weekly outdoor learning curriculum, the week is divided in three groups, according to how long a child has been at the school, and how well she copes with changing circumstances, is able to keep herself safe away from school, work well in a group or has managed that particular week the previous year. While the first two groups take part in local adventurous activities such as climbing, canoeing, treasure hunting or bike riding, the third, most advanced group, goes for a week of residential outdoor activities further away from where the school is located, usually in Wales. The MBS also organises a ‘camping week’ in the spring, following the same principles with every group camping out at night and doing fun outdoor adventurous activities during the day. With these structures in place, and unlike schools who have resorted to use adventurous activities in the more regulated PE sessions (Leather, 2018), the MBS places itself in a good position when it comes to encouraging children to develop themselves physically and emotionally through the outdoors, in complement with their general education and life skills.

Like every school, the MBS encounters limitations to the delivery of outdoor learning. Adding to prioritisations in the school budget, time to train teachers and staff, etc., there are also safeguarding and risk management policies, especially when it comes to involving vulnerable children in riskier activities. Children at the MBS have all been severely traumatized and we, as practitioners, support them by providing a positive, safe and reliable environment and experiences where children can rebuild themselves, their self-constructs and a sense of self-worth in order for them to hopefully live back in their local community.

However, risk taking with vulnerable children can also be a positive, if used correctly. As the MBS risk assessment policy states, “it is important that the children have the opportunity to learn to manage situations within this environment so that they can learn to make safe choices when faced with potential risk.” (MBS risk assessment policy, 2016, p.2) Why then, add more risk? Risk can be seen as both negative and positive, depending on how much risk is used. When used to an adequate degree, risk can provide a challenge which in turn will open a space for positive change, a concept at the basis of the field of adventure therapy. According to Gass, Gillis and Russell, the key principles of adventure therapy are: “1. Assess and capitalize on a group member’s individual strengths and perceived or real limitations 2. Provide appropriately challenging experiences in a group context that are integrated with well-accepted psychotherapy methods 3. Combine all of this into an experience that values, honors, and recognizes how a sense of belonging aids the change process” (2012, pp.49-50).

Adventure therapists choose an activity and a challenge appropriately to match what they assess the client needs are to allow for the change process to start. Group work and participation in an activity are central to this kind of therapy. Indeed, Ratner and Yusuf state that “groupwork is an important mode of working with young people. […] It is a way to impact on the peer group, and […] it avoids targeting particular individuals as being in need of ‘help’. There is also usefulness of giving individuals the opportunity to learn from, and to contribute to, the others in the group. Even when every participant’s issues are different, there is a sense of group identity that can be mutually empowering for the members” (2015, p.69).  

Part 2 – Methodology

This assignment recounts a project of action research I undertook over the past few months within my place of work, at the Mulberry Bush school. Action research is a form of enquiry that enables practitioners in every job and walk of life to investigate and evaluate their work. They ask, ‘What am I doing? Do I need to improve anything? If so, what? How do I improve it? Why should I improve it?’ They produce their own accounts of practice to show: 1) how they are trying to improve what they are doing, which involves first thinking about and learning how to do it better; and 2) how they try to influence others to do the same thing. These accounts stand as their own practical theories of practice, from which others can learn if they wish (McNiff and Whitehead, 2006, p.7).

Action research can be undertaken over various periods of time. Once the practitioner has found what she wants to improve, or research, she has to read relevant literature to learn about theories related to her interest to support her and see where she situates herself in that research according to what has or has not been done. The next step is the ‘action’ part of action research, which I will call an intervention. The practitioner puts something in place, either a new activity, or a new way to do things in an activity she is already involved in. In my case, I was curious about how practitioners at the MBS could use the outdoors in a more therapeutic manner. I therefore observed forest school sessions, free outdoor play during break times in the school day and after school as well as during holidays. I also led and observed several outdoor learning sessions during ‘Choosing’ (explain) as well as one week of ‘camping week’ in the spring and one week of ‘Outward Bound’ week in the autumn. I took regular notes and observed what effect adult-led activities happening in a structured playtime, or outdoor time, and taking place in a group had on children’s behaviour, mood, and well-being.

I then compared these with activities children did in smaller groups or on their own with an adult and observed children’s behaviours and well-being. I first organised and observed activities that were more child-led, letting the children choose the activity, or participate in organising it – like designing the route for a bike ride, fixing the bike before going on a bike ride, supervising but not assisting in simpler activities, etc., making the child a more active participant in his or her own activity. I later organised or observed similar activities but changed the focus on a slightly higher level or challenge, such as swimming in a cold water lake, swimming time and half or twice what a child is usually comfortable doing, going on a bike ride on a flooded path – requiring children to have water at thigh levels for a couple of meters, doing partner yoga as opposed to individual yoga – requiring trust in the partner, focus and balance, etc. All activities happened in accordance with risk assessments regarding both the activity and the locations used, as well as my personal and professional qualifications – I am an experienced yoga practitioner and teacher as well as an open water lifeguard specialised in lakes and reservoirs. I brought all the necessary safety gear with me when in the water with children. I was also accompanied by a colleague holding the same qualification.

What follows then, to make it a valid, objective research, is to collect data from the intervention put in place, and to later turn that data into evidence so as to not make it all about the practitioner’s sole opinion. There are many data-gathering techniques to monitor or observe action or evaluate learning, from the practitioner’s learning or that of his colleagues. For example, to monitor their action, practitioners can use their own field notes, or notes from their reflective journal, mind maps, record sheets, daily school reports, etc. To record their learning, they can use techniques such as written accounts, personal log and diaries, email correspondence, questionnaires, surveys or interviews (McNiff and Whitehead, 2006). Data collection can be both, or either, qualitative or quantitative.

For the first element of my research, I used qualitative data collection relying on my personal reflective notes taken regularly in my reflective journal, as well as daily reports on children’s actions and wellbeing written on Clearcare, a software the MBS is required to use to record many aspects of the children’s daily life and to ensure good practice. (MBS Standardising Logging and Recording Policy, 2019). I also collected staff’s feedback on the activities and children’s record on monthly significant achievements.

For the second and third interventions, I used, in addition to my own reflective observations, a child and an adult questionnaire, given as a written document for adults, and asked as an interview to children after such activities to collect data.

As I used children’s material, I made sure to ask the children for their consent as well as to anonymize any child and not display any material which would allow to identify any child. I also checked with the MBS head of outreach, as well as with the MBS data protection policy and the policy on using case material about children and families, which states that no further action is required when using confidential information for research purposes as long as it is “collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes”(MBS Data Protection Policy , 2018, p.3) The material I am using for this research project is only for use within the Mulberry Bush organisation and will not be shared with any public entity.

Part 3 – Findings

  • 1st intervention

From my first set of observations, records showed that children benefitted immensely from the outdoor activities put in place, and two characteristics especially stood out: perseverance and solidarity / helpfulness. Examples read: “K. gave 100% effort during the rock climbing on Outward Bounds week, encouraging other children and adults to achieve”, “J. really flourished in the Outward Bound activities. Handled disappointment on not doing all the activities at all times as well as difficult behaviours from other children”, “L. smashed the climbing wall during Outward Bound week despite finding parts of the week difficult”, “M. managed to camp out for a whole week and work well with his camp mates (very worried about his group)”, “A. enjoyed making a fire […] despite being in the cold rain” (MBS Significant positive achievements 2019). Adults’ feedback resonated with the children’s experience. For example, one practitioner wrote, about his experience of the camping week: “Such an amazing experience for the kids. They have been talking about it (mostly) positively since it happened, even though there were a few very tricky bits.” Others felt as positively yet started gently questioning the divide of groups by location and ability, thus breaking a certain community feeling. An example of this reads as follows: “Wales is wicked. Should more go? Could more go but different?” (MBS Camping week and Outward Bound week staff feedback, 2019).

The benefits of outdoor learning were clearly identified, and the therapeutic side of it seemed underlying in the way staff and children communicated with each other. This entry from my reflective journal illustrates this point well: “Everyone is playing together. Staff are having fun with the children and with other members of staff, just like children are having fun with children and staff alike. There’s a sense of solidarity this week that we rarely see on site. More laughs. More communication. The communication seems immediate when the kids find something fun or hard in their activity this week. Much less hiding of feelings, as if the clear task of the sport helps them see their feelings more clearly” (23rd October 2019). Later in the year, I also observed: “Having fun, feeling confident. K. just thanked me for organising the tracking activity. He even suggested that I should ask them to bring a small rucksack with essential snacks and water next time so they can get a gold certificate in YGS. And that we should do this more often because he feels so much more confident and enjoyed helping others track their treasure. I had never seen him like this. He was beaming. And proud.” (Reflective journal entry, 3rd November 2019)

  • 2nd and 3rd interventions

When asked how they felt after an outdoor activity compared to an indoor activity, children answered, they felt more confident, stronger, and more tired. Out of the 9 children I interviewed, 4 engaged actively in answering it. I found that asking the same questions in a less formal way, as and when the child was engaged in an activity brought more fruitful answers. After a challenging bike ride, a child said “I know I feel stronger because my legs hurt and it’s hard but it means my muscles are growing and that I’ll be better next time. And it’s okay to worry about how hard it is but in the end it’s fine. I love this. And I get an adult to myself!” (Child L). Another child said after a challenging mud walk led by that child: “I like that I get to be the boss and choose where we’re going. It’s like I’m an adult. Plus when I’m outside it helps me feel less grumpy. Sometimes I’m still grumpy, but definitely more when I’m in the house” (Child A).

Similarly, when asked specifically about how being outside helped or did not help, one child said: “Nature is fun. I think it’s better if you’re offsite in the nature than just in the garden, because of the smells. Just the smell of everything outside. […] It helps me feel better, just because being outside and the feel of being outdoors, with the grass and just the earth really. And it’s good to have some fresh air.” (Child J.) When asked about being in a group when doing an outdoor activity, and whether that was helpful, one child answered: “Some people are grumpy but some people just respect the outdoors, and it is just nice. The first time I lit a fire I didn’t understand what I was doing. Now I don’t mind doing it. I prefer doing wittling though. Because I think it’s relaxing with a knife and when you’re learning about the safety bits of it. Once I’m done wittling I feel very happy, even though sometimes I’m impatient when I don’t have the knife and I don’t get my own way. But its more helpful when I’m not in a group. I feel more relaxed. I have more fun when the activity is harder because you’re being challenged. And the challenge brings you experience. The outdoors help me a lot because it’s amazing. It’s just Mother Nature!” (Child B).

The practitioners who answered the questionnaire all worked in direct contact with children, whether in the residential part of the school or in education. They brought more nuanced answers. All who answered argued in favour of risk as being a key element of the therapeutic side of outdoor learning. One participant even wrote: “The therapy available during outdoor learning, I believe, is accessed only when there are challenges. The point of using the outdoor environment is to allow the children to develop their own relationship with the world around them. Each challenge they face, is overcome with a deeper understanding of their environment. For traumatised children, this can represent a level of control in their lives usually sought in less healthy ways.” (Participant G.) Another participant added: “Challenging activities allow the child to access to the adult’s emotional world in a clear and unthreatening way. For example, if me and Child X are standing on a ledge together about to drop in order to abseil down it, then the child can see and understand my fear and immediately understand that it’s because I’m about to do something scary. So I can show that vulnerability without it being about them. Which, in turn, means that I can demonstrate that fear is natural and can be controlled, worked through, etc. So they can see and understand my emotion without being burdened with it.” (Participant J.) This participant added that for him, adventurous outdoor activities strengthened relationships between all parties taking part in the activity, regardless of age or experience, and allowed children to comfortably in an unfamiliar environment.  Other participants argued that being in nature helped children “focus more on the present moment”, and that being outdoors is good for self-regulation (Participant S.). Another made the argument that activities that brought an appropriate level of challenge brought instant gratification, which in itself was therapeutic as it boosts resilience and confidence levels (Participant A). All practitioners mentioned the importance of gauging risk taking appropriately, as an activity with a risk too high could bring “the possibility for the child to revisit their traumatic experiences in a negative way and to have an abrupt negative impact on the child’s self-esteem, especially if the activity is done in a group where the other children succeeded in the same activity” (Participant R).

Some participants personally less interested in outdoor activities highlighted the practical benefits of bigger outdoor events such as the camping or outward-bound weeks. The main comment was that having the whole school involved in the same outdoor project felt very positive and brought a stronger sense of community to school during those days.

When asked about whether outdoor learning should, in practice, be more present at the MBS, participants agreed there should be more outdoor learning in general, and this in itself would become more therapeutic. Participants were shared between keeping the structure the same or embedding in more in the culture, with the example of a teacher who sometimes spends the whole day doing class outside, using only experiential learning methods, such as measuring bits of bark for maths, etc.

Part 4 – Analysis

The question I originally focused on, when starting my research project, was: how can we use outdoor adventurous activities therapeutically to support traumatized children in a residential care setting? I tried to gather data from both children and adults to measure how much outdoor learning was done at the MBS, how it was used and how often, and most importantly how it benefitted the vulnerable children enrolled at the school in a therapeutic, not academic, manner. The findings of both questionnaires coupled with daily and monthly reports, my own observations and field notes have highlighted the importance of risk-taking as a key factor for therapeutic outdoor interventions. Data has also shown the importance of experiential approaches and the active participation of children in the activity as additional key factors to a therapeutic approach.  In this part of the assignment I shall provide an analysis of my research findings and discuss what impact, if any,  this project has had on my own learning and practice, as well as that of my coworkers and the students involved in the project.

The concept of risk is often seen as a negative one, associated with a hazard or a bad consequence. Alberg and colleagues argue that risk is a “possibility of beneficial and harmful outcomes and the likelihood of their occurrence in a stated timescale” (cited by Titterton, 2004, p.25). Kemshall draws our attention to two categories of risk worth bearing in mind, “those risks which people pose to others; [and] those risks to which people are exposed; these are perhaps best understood as referring to people who are vulnerable to risk” (2008, p.140). In the context of health and social welfare, risk assessments – which we are required to undertake for each activity involving risk at the MBS – are an estimation and an evaluation of risks, challenging practitioners to make difficult judgments, depending on vulnerable children’s capabilities to cope physically, psychologically, emotionally or even socially (Titterton, 2004).

As adult participants in the project have voiced, when applied inappropriately, risks can be physically, emotionally, or even socially damaging. Too much risk or non-appropriate risk places vulnerable children in unnecessary positions of danger. It can also overwhelm them to the point that the positive outcome no longer outweighs the potential risks. On the other hand, with too little risk, children can remain in their comfort zone and fail to be motivated to change a dysfunctional behaviour and see new perspectives. The fear of physical or emotional injury can lead practitioners to keep vulnerable children from risky activities entirely and adopt a ‘safety first’ approach to their work. According to Titterton, this approach sometimes “ignores the other needs of vulnerable people; denies them the right to choice and self-determination; leads to a loss of self-esteem and respect; can lead to a form of institutionalisation with the loss of individuality, volition and an increase in dependence; at its worst, it can lead to the abuse of vulnerable people” (2004, p.15). Titterton goes far in mentioning the recreation of abuse by the practitioner and does not take into account the practitioner’s own fears and training – or lack of.

Indeed, most of the participants who have actively taken part in my research are already using the outdoors therapeutically, one way or another, in their own practice. 1 out of 4 was a trained as a forest school leader, which brings a different bias to this part of my data. Those less involved or interested in outdoor activities did not return my questions, which does not mean they are not involved in practice, or do not think of the outdoors as a therapeutic tool. On the contrary, my notes demonstrate that they are as involved when another, more confident adult leads the activity: “ I notice Charlotte has helped Cary much more in the past three times they were on a cross-school activity together. Interesting. I thought she hated going for a walk. I asked her why she asked to come yesterday and she said that as long as she was not leading and somebody had her back, she was fine. She just doesn’t want the responsibility if something goes wrong.” (Reflective journal entry, 25th February 2020)

Interest and safety in the activity are therefore external factors directly in correlation with the possibility of an outdoor activity occurring therapeutically. This leads us to consider the practitioner’s training in the delivery of an outdoor therapeutic activity. Indeed, Knight (2011) argues that the best way for students to be engaged and feel safe in a riskier outdoor activity is for the practitioner to realise that he or she holds the role of a facilitator of children’s interest in nature. Without adequate training, practitioners will lead outdoor learning, no matter how informal, inefficiently and will become more of a supervisor than a facilitator. The MBS staff are trained in keeping vulnerable children safe, which in itself should minimize the conditions within which accidents usually happen when participating in adventurous activities. A model by Williamson and Meyer (cited in Gass, Gillis and Russell, 2012, p.186) explains factors associated with accidents in adventurous sports and is based on the fact that most accidents tend to occur because of an interaction of the following elements: inappropriate conditions in the environment, unsafe acts performed by the participants, and error in judgment made by the person in charge of the activity. By not appropriately training staff, we risk uncontainment, which can then lead to a higher level of risk.  Douglas defines containment as a concept “thought to occur when one person receives and understands the emotional communication of another without being overwhelmed by it, processes it and then communicates understanding and recognition back to the other person. This process can restore the capacity to think in the other person” (2007, p.33). In residential work, containment becomes a circle, a continuum where everyone is in need of a container. The practitioner assumes the role of container to the traumatised, uncontained child. In order to grow and learn, the child needs to feel safe physically and emotionally. If the container is uncontained, so is the child.


Evaluation and conclusion

I have learned from my research that positive risk-taking in outdoor adventurous activities in residential care settings like the MBS encourage vulnerable children to challenge themselves and overcome fears and obstacles by themselves. This makes room for positive change and teaches children to cope better with successes and failures, which are part of daily life. In order to stimulate their senses and stimulate their motor skills, children do need to take reasonable risks, and these risks helps them have a better awareness of their own safety and strength. Moreover, they also often do not take all the risk themselves, thus involving others in their decision-making and recognising that other children might have interesting ideas to consider. Developing their social skills this way and learning to try new things allows vulnerable children to gain better self-confidence. Positive and reasonable risk-taking also and especially helps children stay away from riskier behaviours. In a few words, when faced with a challenge in outdoor activities, I have noticed children welcoming risk as a way to overcome their own fears linked to their own trauma. Learning to cope with the challenge of the activity mirrored how they coped with a situation when back in a house.

While the content of my research lead to the aforementioned findings, I noticed a few ways in which my research methods, and my practice, could improve. When observing or leading outdoor activities, I noticed that so much attention was being put into what the children did, which activity was chosen, and who would lead the activity or the project. My original idea that, as long as there was an unfamiliar environment and different routines, there was a challenge, and this challenge thus brought about the possibility for therapy.  I myself became a bit lost in the questions I asked in my questionnaires – I was too focused on what makes an activity therapeutic for the adults, or how the children benefitted from the activity that I did not ask about the opposite perspective. I did not push the participants who were less involved by asking them what reserves they held towards the project, or what limitations my project had.

In hindsight, my methodology could have been more objective. Indeed, questionnaires can be a very useful tool to measure data, yet they do take a lot of preparation and show much room for expansion. Answers are more interesting than a simple yes/no questions, yet what is measured is harder to gauge.  I tried to bypass this by asking several questions leading to different aspects of the same answer, because I was passionate about advocating for adventure therapy. I now realise I relied too much on these and not enough on other documents. I also did not foresee how much the answers children would give would depend on their current state of mind, and how difficult it would be to have the answers I was looking for. Yet another thing I have learned: I had in mind from the beginning of my project what I thought the main argument would be, which gave me a bias  and probably led me to listen to what I wanted to listen. Relying more on field notes would most likely have been a more objective way of collecting data regarding the children’s behaviours towards outdoor therapy.


Allen, B. (2012) Risk Assessment for Behaviour Management. Surrey: Steaming Ltd.

Bouillard, E. (2019) Reflective journal. Unpublished.

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Gass, M.A., Gillis, H.L. and Russell, K.C. (2012) Adventure therapy: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York and Hove: Routledge.

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Kemshall, H., Wilkinson, B., and Baker, K. (2013) Working with risk. London: Polity Press.

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Knight, S. (2011) Forest School for All. London: Sage

Leather, M. (2018) Outdoor education in the national curriculum: The shifting sands in formal education. In Becker, P., Loynes, C., Humberstone, B. and Schirp, J. (2018) The changing world of the outdoors [online]. Oxford: Routledge, pp. 179–193. [Accessed 18th April 2020].

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Bibliography (annotated)

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This video shows the 1000 kms walk some at risk youth in French and Belgium the Court asked them to undertake as an alternative to going to a Pupil Referral Unit.

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A- Adult’s questionnaire:

1- What do you think the benefits of outdoor learning are for traumatized children?

2- In your opinion, do the risks you take during a forest school session or any outdoor learning activity with the children outweigh the benefits? Why?

3- Do you see a difference in children’s behaviour when an outdoor activity is led by an adult as opposed to when it is child-led? What is it?

4- In your opinion, when traumatized children take part in an outdoor adventurous activity, does the level of challenge of the activity have an impact on the children’s wellbeing and learning? How?

5- If a child encounters a high level of challenge during an outdoor activity, can this activity still be therapeutic? Why?

6- Would you say that adventurous outdoor activities are therapeutic for traumatized children? Why?

7- What difference do you see in children’s behaviour when you work with them indoors as opposed to outdoors?          A – in relation to attention level

B – in relation to group work

C- in relation to general wellbeing

8- At a residential special school like the MBS, do you think children should be offered more outdoor therapeutic activities? Why?

B- Children’s questionnaire:

1- What activity did you just do and how did you feel while you were doing it?

Pointers: Did you feel   –happy / sad / enjoyed it / had lots of energy / had no one to play with / tired / got on well with others / felt good about myself / felt more confident / stronger

2- What was the best thing about the activity and why?

3- Do you think being outdoors : A) helps you feel better

  1. B) makes no difference in how you feel
  2. C) makes you feel worse

And why?

4- Was anything about the activity challenging? How did you manage this challenge?

5- When you do an activity with a challenge outdoors, do you prefer to do it alone with an adult or in a group with other children? Why?









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