Featured image for “We’ve joined the #letusout movement for the benefit of all young people UK wide – have you?”

We’ve joined the #letusout movement for the benefit of all young people UK wide – have you?

8 February 2024

Research shows that 58% of teenagers in the UK cite mental health in the top three issues of their generation, and are spending the least amount of active, outdoor time in the whole of Europe – often less than half the time outside than their parents did. It’s not difficult to see a link between these statistics, particularly given the growing evidence to link time spent outdoors with improved mental and physical health in young people.

The Department for Education, in recognition of the benefits of outdoor education, has made learning outside a part of the national curriculum. But the reality is that access to the all-important secondary school trips is inconsistent across the UK, with students in the most deprived socioeconomic areas losing out on this formative experience due to the prohibitive cost and lack of government funding. So access to these experiences that government and school leaders agree makes an important and positive impact to a child’s education and social / behavioural development is often limited to those whose parents can afford to pay for it.


In recognition of this disparity, the Outward Bound Trust has launched the #letusout movement, calling on governments in England, Scotland and Wales to sign a Bill ensuring that every secondary school pupil in the country has the opportunity to experience an outdoor residential secondary school trip.

Following consultations in England, Scotland and Wales, supported by political parties across the board, the proposal for an Outdoor Education Bill is currently in draft stage, with the committee stage scheduled for Autumn 2023 (2024 in England). Through their targeted social media campaign, the Trust are urging schools, parents and the general public at large to join the #letusout movement, lobbying their local MP to demand change, and canvasing widespread support for the passing of the Bill in all three countries.

Why outdoor learning is vital for secondary school pupils

The Year 6 celebratory residential trip is a long-established tradition for most schools to mark the end of primary school. It’s a time for building independence, celebrating the end of exams, and bidding farewell to some of the classmates you’ve come to know over the past 6-7 years prior to moving on to ‘big’ school. But actually, offering students the opportunity to learn outdoors and stay away from home overnight during their time at secondary school is just as important, if not more so, for their mental and physical wellbeing. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved pupil progress and attainment – In 2019 the Learning Away Consortium published a study measuring the impact of school residentials for pupils in Years 6 and 7 on their progress and attainment. Results showed that following their residential trip secondary school pupils worked better as a team, developed a deeper understanding of the subject, and evidenced improved creativity. Almost 75% of staff felt that the residential trip improved students’ knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Class cohesion – Year 7 can be a scary place for a 10-11 year old who has just come from being the ‘leader’ in Year 6, to now being one of the youngest in the school, often a much bigger school than they’re used to, and with a new class of peers, many of whom they won’t know. Even as adults it’s easy to recall the nerves we felt on the first day of secondary school, and for most students that first term, even that first year of secondary school is an anxious time of adjustment. A residential trip that brings them together as a year group in the midst of this all-important year of change can help to create that sense of community that boosts cohesion and improves interpersonal relationships among students.
  • If there’s one thing parents, teachers and school leaders agree on it’s that the traditional classroom environment alone does not adequately provide the life skills young people need to succeed after they leave school. So as they progress through school and closer towards GCSEs and the world of work, it’s more important than ever that students have the opportunity to develop skills like independence, leadership, resilience, a sense of community and an appreciation for the real world they live in.
  • Maintaining the love of the great outdoors – as they move on from primary school, young people will spend less time playing outdoors and socialising, and more time on their own indoors. Initiatives like the Duke of Edinburgh Award provide an invaluable incentive for getting young people active, learning new skills and thinking about their community, and the school residential experience can open up new pathways and experiences to lead on to and support the DofE award. Whether it’s providing an opportunity to learn a new skill like climbing, bushcraft or orienteering, that could be further developed as part of the DofE programme, or an introduction to outdoor education that could lead to volunteering opportunities – it provides a platform from which they can develop new hobbies and skills.
  • Opening up new career pathways – considering the many, fast-changing careers options available to young people, it’s no surprise that schools generally direct careers advice down the 6th form / college / university path. Careers advice and information outside of this ‘norm’ is often very limited, and so experiences like the school residential can open young people’s eyes to potentially new and exciting jobs and apprenticeship opportunities in the field of outdoor education, whether it’s coaching, bushcraft, or outdoor education instructor. For those in their element in the great outdoors, this experience can help them find their calling.

Join the #letusout movement

If you’re as passionate as we are about ensuring young people UK wide have the same access to high quality outdoor education residentials then join the #letusout movement and add your voice to the thousands across the UK campaigning for the Outdoor Education Bill where you are. The Outward Bound Trust have made it easy to get involved, offering resources including a social media toolkit with the messaging and soundbites you need to publicly share the cause, as well as letter templates to help you submit a letter to your MP.

We’ve seen firsthand the difference an outdoor education residential experience can make to a young person’s life, and we’re very excited to be joining a campaign to help guarantee this experience for every young person in the UK. Thank you for joining us.

Choose Rootd Adventure

At Rootd Adventure we offer Learning Outside the Classroom accredited residential trips for primary and secondary pupils at our outdoor centres in Hertfordshire and Surrey. Whether you’re looking for a Year 6 celebration, or a Year 7 transition trip, we can adapt our unique combination of outdoor adventure and bushcraft activities to suit your group. Contact us for more information and to arrange a guided site visit.