Am I “ready to learn”?: Integrating Outdoor Education with School wide Learning models to improve outcomes and better communicate the value of experiential learning opportunities amidst old fashion views of Outdoor activities.

Mr David Gemmell1, Mr Nathan O’Malley1
1Brighton Grammar School, Brighton, Australia


The purpose of a learning model is to align many of the processes at the school. The Brighton Grammar School (BGS)- Effective Learner Model (ELM) includes the principles required to help boys become good learners and good men. It is a product of the Evidence Informed Decision Making process and includes work from Jim Knight, John Hattie and input from our school community. The model is also supported by a culture of instructional coaching and strong community links.

As a non-teaching department we are often challenged to justify our existence in a community that does not immediately recognise alternative educational approaches, especially given our significant draw on financial and academic time resources. At Brighton Grammar School, we have increased the profile and regard of Outdoor Education quickly by complimenting and championing the learning and well being initiatives that grow from the Effective Learner Model and extending the school culture into the great outdoors.

If students can demonstrate proficiency in all the areas of the effective learner model, they can take these skills beyond the school into their future endeavours. The model covers four areas of learning and the PROSPER model for well being. The beauty of the model is that it is highly adaptable into the various curriculum situations.

1. Learning architecture: “I know where I am, where I am going and what my next steps are”
2. Learning processes: “I know how to learn”
3. Learning dispositions “I am ready to learn”
4. Feedback “I seek, act upon and give feedback”

This will be a fast paced presentation around the foundation research that forms the ELM and offers up some lessons (positive and negative) from our experiences over the past three years for you to take away and smoosh into your own learning contexts. Are YOU ready to learn?

Nathan is a systems guy and enjoys finding better ways to do things. Nathan spent over a decade freelancing around the country before finding opportunities to move into program coordinating with The Outdoor Education Group and then moving to Brighton Grammar School as deputy head of department. During his time with these organisations he has worked hard to improve the regard of Outdoor Education in the school communities and put his energy into creating clear systems and processes to allow for greater focus on the student’s experience. Nathan is a qualified secondary teacher and this drives his passion for rigorous outcomes in outdoor programming and he believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of experiential learning and student centered program design.

David is currently the Head of Outdoor Education at Brighton Grammar School in Victoria. He has worked in the outdoor industry around the world, within K-12 and tertiary education plus not-for-profit and commercial sectors since 2001. Passionate about all water based activities it is both a joy and a terror waiting to see how his students respond to paddling adventures. One of his biggest challenges is convincing his toddlers that the woods ‘won’t eat them’!

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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