Roots and wings
A history of outdoor education and outdoor learning in the UK
By Ken C. Ogilvie

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Driven by those who believe that a traditional academic approach to education is both too narrow and ignores important aspects of the whole person, the history of outdoor learning is here fleshed out to explore these and the many other factors influencing its evolution.

By exploring both the millennia long history of man's relationship with the natural environment, and the more recent changes in approaches to education and personal development, this extensively researched book:
  • establishes clear foundations for a deeper understanding of the roots of outdoor learning
  • traces - and places in context - many of the individuals and movements that played important roles in its growth and diversity
  • demonstrates the timeless need for nature to play a part in every child and young person's development
  • supports the case for early connection with nature in each child's life, and an on-going healthy and environmentally sustainable life style for all ages.

  • Roots and Wings is for outdoor learning practitioners, teachers, youth workers, policy makers; and students, lecturers, researchers, and their libraries in outdoor learning, education, environmental studies and personal development. It provides:
  • guidance for those trying to influence the journey they are on
  • potential for future developments
  • a wealth of further references
  • a timely reminder of the need to work with and harness the power of nature, engendering a more adventurous spirit and nature loving mindset in future generations.

    While notable biographies and accounts of particular outdoor learning institutions already exist, this is the first single volume to address all aspects and sectors of the movement. It will be a foundation for future generations as they take outdoor learning on the next steps in its journey.

    Large format. 824 pages. 9781905541843. Published October 2012. £39.95.


    Roots and Wings is for:
  • Outdoor Learning Practitioners: it provides, for the first time, a history of their evolving profession; and provides real guidance for those seeking to influence the journey they are on.
  • Teachers: it serves as a reminder of the alternatives to narrow curriculum driven activity and league tables and the work that has been undertaken to develop those alternatives.
  • Youth workers: it picks up a thinly documented area of practice and points to the potential for future developments between youth work and the outdoors.
  • Students of the outdoor learning world and related fields of education, environmental studies and personal development; lecturers, researchers and their libraries: it provides a fantastic chronological journey through the evolution of outdoor learning and a wealth of further references to support their research.
  • Policy makers: it provides a timely reminder of the need to work with and harness the power of nature, engendering a more adventurous spirit and nature loving mindset in future generations.


    Kenneth C. Ogilvie
    is a key figure in the recent history of Outdoor Learning. His passion for adventurous activity in the outdoors was nurtured during his time with Carlisle Grammar School Scout Troop in the late 40's and early 50's. When Ken qualified as a teacher after studying History at Durham and PE at Carnegie College, the world of education did not recognise the outdoor pursuit disciplines that were his passion, in the same way they do now, so he taught traditional PE. During his 8 years as a PE teacher Ken ran many extra-curricular trips, courses and camps and was a founder member of Cumberland’s Panel of Assessors for the Gold Expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

    Ken's career in outdoor learning has included running Ghyll Head Outdoor Education Centre, near Windermere, for Manchester Education Authority, for over 22 years. This saw Ken and the team providing short stay residential courses for a range of schools, colleges, youth clubs and community centres, as well as the general public. Ghyll Head pioneered approaches in social education using the outdoors, experimenting in ways of involving course members in running their own courses. The outdoor activities at the centre became a means to an end, enabling more focus on inter personal skills and the learning process. Not turning his back on the outdoor disciplines during this time, Ken took part in the first ever Mountain Instructor Course run at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre.

    Ken continues to contribute to the development of the outdoor learning field. His book Leading and Managing Groups in the Outdoors first published in 1991 remains a much referenced text. He has served on the Mountain Leader Training Board and held various offices with the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres. He spent 16 years as editor of the National Association for Outdoor Education’s newsletter, seeing through its transition to the Institute for Outdoor Learning and had a number of articles published in the Journal for Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning. Ken was appointed one of the first Fellows of the Institute for Outdoor Learning in 2010.


    The Institute for Outdoor Learning
    is the professional body for outdoor learning practitioners. As a charity it encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and developing the good practice of outdoor professionals.
    The Institute provides a wide range of professional development services through a network across all home nations in the UK and supports the development of outdoor learning globally. IOL services include:
  • The Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning
  • Horizons quarterly magazine - professional development and updates for outdoor practitioners
  • Professional Accreditation
  • Extensive IOL website - including Jobsite and Course/Event listings
  • Conferences and professional development workshops - nationally and regionally
  • Representation and lobbying activity
  • A wide range of Special Interest Groups focused on developing and disseminating good practice in fields such as Forest Schools, Bushcraft and Survival Skills, Outdoor Therapeutic Practice, Outdoor Learning for individuals with disabilities, Higher Education
  • Advice and support for outdoor practitioners, through newsletters, the website and other advisory services.

  • The Institute has supported a range of publications and runs an on-line bookshop for specialist outdoor learning books and other resources.
    Many of the Institute's services are provided on a voluntary basis by recognised experts in the field.
    A small central office team is maintained to run the charity which is funded through membership fees and project specific donations.
    More information about membership and services is available at or by contacting the IOL office on 01228 564580.


    Foreword by Roger Orgill, MBE.
    Preface by Andy Robinson
    About the author
    About IOL

    Why begin so far back?
    Problems of history writing
    Importance of dates
    Popularity of use of the term 'outdoor education'
    Need for a generic name tag
    Modern outdoor learning - typical example
    Out of Eden or Hell - and into...

    The journey begins
    Ten million years ago
    Under two million years ago
    By 700,000 BC
    By 30,000 BC
    About 20,000 years ago
    About learning so far
    During those past two million years
    Arcadian Eden?
    Around 10,000 years ago
    About 8,000 years ago - nomads to pastoralists or farmers
    Rites of passage
    Early civilisations - lifestyle changes
    Growth of leisure
    Romans leave Britain
    The early English
    Battling with nature
    Rise of the church and consolidation of its position
    Influence of the church on learning
    The double cage
    Feudal life in the Middle Ages
    Nature of feudal relationships
    Forests set aside
    Church teachings - their personal and social implications
    A universal belief system
    Leisure activities
    Rattling the feudal cage doors
    Changes in the medieval context
    Changes on the ground
    Learning and the growth of universities
    Riotous scholars
    Changes now in the air too
    Progress in practical sciences
    The mind cage crumbles

    The Renaissance
    Renaissance humanism
    The Renaissance in England
    The English humanists
    Potential for conflict
    Church credibility and reputation at low ebb
    Last straw
    Hijack and delayed action fizzle
    Elizabeth consolidates and stabilises
    Elizabethan education policy
    End of feudal restrictions
    Everyday life
    A look ahead
    Summary of Renaissance-Reformation events
    Trail breaking in the 17th Century
    An early outdoor learning group
    1600-1750 overview
    Education - shortcomings
    Inadequacies of education prompt its reform
    Anglican-Puritan differences
    Anglican repression
    Thinkers and theories
    A new Enlightenment gets underway
    The new academies and some voluntary initiatives
    Wanted - new lamps for old
    England's changed world orientation
    Maps improve
    Travelling around Great Britain
    Poaching laws restrict local access
    The Enlightenment
    18th Century - at home and abroad
    A much needed respite
    Green and pleasant land
    New agricultural methods and changes in the countryside
    Industry grows and so do towns
    Continental influences on education
    Rousseau's Emile
    German scene
    Education and the changing status of children
    18th Century focus on nature
    Changes in attitudes to nature
    Country more peaceful and stable
    Scotland and the Ordnance Survey
    Natural history - formal and academic, informal and social
    Nature becomes a leisure outlet
    Nature becoming fashionable - collecting and touring
    Serious natural history at low ebb until later in the 18th Century
    Serious natural history revival
    From the picturesque to romanticism
    Early tourists
    Harbingers of changing outlooks again
    On the water
    Foreign adventuring
    The Alps
    Attitude to nature changing again
    Romanticism linked with natural history
    Geology comes of age
    Kaleidoscope of complexity

    Background briefing time again
    1815 overview
    What was NOT in place
    The state of play in 1815
    Evangelical Methodism
    Laissez-faire - a brake on change
    Problems caused by change require solutions - more change
    Constitutional reform gets underway
    Adventuring - getting away from it all
    19th Century outdoors
    Exploration far afield in the first half of the 19th Century
    African exploration
    Outdoors - nearer to home in the first half of the 19th Century
    Geology in the headlines again
    Roll up for the Alpine show
    Ordnance Survey gets going
    Outdoors during the second half of the Century
    The golden age of mountaineering
    Looking back - and where next?
    The silver age
    Important justification note re mountaineering
    Rock climbing begins in Britain
    Late 19th Century - leisure pursuits
    Other outdoor adventurers
    Winter sports
    Natural history in the 19th Century
    A 19th Century overview
    Formal natural history
    Improvements to infra-structure good for natural history
    Popular natural history
    Sport and access
    Attack on land ownership
    Attack on access to commons
    Access to wilder regions
    Natural history societies
    Societies for the young too
    Natural history in schools - vitalism
    Vitalism and 'nature study'
    Darwin's effect
    Specialisms - end of an era
    Early appearance of the conservation trend
    Preservation too
    Education in the 19th Century
    Advanced Europe
    And backwoods Britain
    The public schools
    Rise of games in public schools
    State provision of elementary education
    Curriculum content determined by class and for class
    A national system at last
    From drill to physical training to physical education
    Girls' physical education
    Progressive 'new' education
    Social concerns and focus on youth outdoors
    Social anomalies caused by problems of scale require remedies
    Growing social awareness
    Children's literature and changing attitude to children
    Early youth work organisations and the Boys Brigade
    Boer War highlights weaknesses at home
    Other outcomes of Boer War
    Robert Baden Powell - The Boy Scouts - The Girl Guides
    Dumbing down of natural history
    Greater mobility for all - naturalists benefit
    New - interest in birds and technical aids
    Using the outdoors for health
    Post school outdoor experiences for girls
    Using the outdoors for school journeys
    By 1914
    Outdoors 1914-39

    Post First World War scene in Britain
    Best of times - worst of times
    Natural history and the environment between the wars
    Transport and a surge outdoors - conservation lifts off
    Popular movement outdoors
    Unemployment, access and mass trespass
    Right-left - scout splinter groups
    The woodcraft folk
    Ordnance Survey maps - inter-war years
    Many outdoor currents running in parallel
    Education reform and practice bumps along
    Educational involvement outdoors
    Early camp schools
    Public schools
    Status of PT/PE grows - but slowly
    Recreation and youth before CCRPT
    Hello to the CCRPT
    Outdoor pursuits and their governing bodies
    In the mountain world
    Kurt Hahn arrives in Britain
    Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Astoria schools
    Doors opening onto the outdoor threshold?
    The war years 1939-1945
    Wartime again
    Military outdoor training
    Military in the outdoors
    Freedom of youth - danger - risk - parental attitudes
    Embryonic welfare state
    Wartime planning for education and the 1944 Act
    The idea of a residential field centre
    CCRPT in wartime - becomes CCPR
    Mountaineering acquires a representative body - the BMC
    Hahn and the first Outward Bound school
    Girl Guides at Blackland Farm and other centres
    Upsurgings outdoors

    Post war lifestyles
    Socio-economic and political landscapes
    Rural and natural landscape - developments
    Natural history - conservation on the move
    Residential field centres begin
    Dual assault on the green and pleasant land
    Facilities outdoors
    Officialdom gets involved: CCPR; Ministry of Education; and Outdoor SCPR
    Glenmore Lodge
    Physical education, leisure and outdoor activities
    Out with the old, in with the new
    Enter the Duke of Edinburgh Award
    The outward bound expands
    Getting sport better organised - Wolfenden
    Albemarle report and its aftermath
    Plas y Brenin
    Northern Ireland - Tollymore
    CCPR active on many fronts
    Sailing developments and the RYA
    The NSSA and BSCA
    Cowes National Sailing Centre
    By the mid to late 1950's
    Summary of the state of play - what OE had going for it
    Anarchy gets organised 1960-1970
    The swinging, sexy sixties
    The early 1960's
    The Newsom and Plowden Reports rattle the cage
    PE heads for the hills, water and confusion
    Accidents in the early 1960's
    First and second conferences of mountain centres
    Accidents and getting organised - MLTB
    MLTB's first ten years
    Other NGBs and their training schemes
    Building infrastructure for OE 1960-1970
    The Association of Wardens of Mountain Centres
    The National Association for Outdoor Education established
    The 'greening' of politics and education
    Countryside Commission and leisure
    The National Association of Field Studies Officers
    Field Studies Council Centres
    Environmental work in outdoor pursuits centres
    Would the twain ever meet?
    Outdoor education in the colleges
    Factors in the rise of outdoor education
    By the end of the 1960s
    OE centres - statistics
    Ideas in turmoil
    The honeymoon seventies and what's it all about?

    Having it so good and turning bad
    Environmental troubles looming
    Green issues, awareness and activists
    Environmental and urban education in schools
    OS maps facilitate access
    Government, sport & NGBs
    Storm and stress
    Cairngorm tragedy - aftermath
    AWMC in the seventies
    AWMC-AHOEC - 40 years of member statistics
    NAOE - the first twelve years
    NAOE membership figures 1970-83
    Impact of outdoor courses in the colleges
    Impact of Her Majesty's Inspectorate
    Enter DTAG-flip charts and problem solving!
    Outdoor Education Advisers' Panel
    The mountain training power struggle
    MLTB vs BMC. 1972-80
    Opening moves
    The two sides lining up
    Dynamite with a short fuse - draft future policy document
    'Educational' mountaineers' case
    JSC is set up by the MLTBs
    The Hunt Report on mountain training
    The BMC's Future Policy Report
    The 'four wise men' arbitration
    Post-arbitration - life begins at '80
    Specialising and diversifying
    The crowded 1970's
    Linked dilemmas of OE and 20th Century education
    Matters philosophical - OE confusion and conflict
    Focus sharpens on experience at short stay residential centres
    Intermediate treatment
    The rise of the manpower services commission
    The great education debate
    Anti-education from pop
    Northern Ireland
    Outdoor education in the 1970s - overview
    Climate changes and chasing the market 1980-1990
    Public's green conscience emerging
    Environmental education and the national curriculum
    Adventure and Environmental Awareness Group
    John Muir Trust
    The political climate changes
    More new uses for outdoor residential experience - YOP to NTI and TVEI, CPVE, GCSE
    Pence, pounds and politics cause difficulties and dilemmas
    The 1988 Education Reform Act and the death of fun
    Effect of local management of schools
    The National Curriculum Council
    Adapt or die - OE fighting for a place in education
    Support of HMI for OE
    BAHA and freelancers - rise of commercial providers
    The range and breadth of OE in the late 1980's
    The right age for participating in OE/EE
    Safety again - guidelines for guidelines
    In search of adventure - Hunt report
    Crisis breeds cooperation
    Selected sectoral activity in the 1980's
    Journal of adventure education
    NAOE fortunes in the 1980's
    Urban outdoor activity initiatives
    NAOE fortunes in the 1980's - continued
    NAOE membership statistics
    AWMC (AHOEC) in the 1980's
    Mountain training in the 1980's-90's
    Association of mountaineering instructors
    Basic Expedition Training Award (BETA)
    Strangulation, starvation and uniting to survive

    Freedom-To conform? The numbing nineties
    Brief overview of 1980's-1990's
    The struggle for recognition - adapting and surviving
    Effect of external events on OETR organisations and structures - a time for working partnerships
    Damage to OE caused by the ERA/LMS
    OE reductions in Scotland
    Forum 1990 to COETR 1993 - one voice. A meeting of minds and minders
    UKCCQOI, S/NVQs & acronymitis
    The New Forum meets
    The Activity Centre Advisory Committee (ACAC)
    The Lyme Bay canoeing tragedy
    After Lyme Bay
    The bumpy road to regulation - ACAC to AALA (cont)
    Jamieson's Activity Centre (YPS) Act
    The AALA enters the arena
    Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee
    OE97 - The UK Year of Outdoor Education
    On other wider issues and of events in some individual sectors
    Back to basics - health worries
    The culture of fear and risk averseness
    Foundation for Outdoor Adventure
    OB Trust and The Duke of Edinburgh Award
    D of E Expedition - context update
    More environmental changes - global warming-implications for OL
    Forest schools - 1993
    John Muir Award - 1997
    Learning theory changes - multiple intelligences
    The path towards convergence - NAOE to AfOL to IOL
    Outdoor learning comes to the capital - QoB
    The journey so far - where we had come from
    Clipped wings and stumbling along before uplift
    Beyond 2000?
    Education issues in the 21st Century
    Safety issues again and St. Trinian's adventure in the Cairngorms
    Disconnection causes disorientation, roundabouts and spirals
    More environmental ripples and trying to cope with climate change - Post 2000
    Threats to the future of outdoor learning? Peeping over the wall
    Whole brain-based learning - the search for success in education
    Implications of cultural and environmental contexts for outdoor learning
    We are here. So where next?
    Disorientation - real or virtual?
    Post 2010 - going backwards or forwards?
    The uncertain journey continues
    OE Practice in the 1970's - A Reality Check

    Characteristics of late 20th Century outdoor learning practice. The three strands
    20th Century preconditions favourable to outdoor learning
    High level of disconnection and/or disassociation from countryside
    National and democratic infrastructure of central and local government providing the means and the energy to get things done and to ensure education for all
    Adequate leisure time for activities
    Natural sciences free of religious myths
    Good transport/communications/media systems
    Peace in the land: i.e. no war to disrupt stable conditions or steady progress
    OE and the state of need fulfilment in the 1970's
    Relationship of outdoor education to mainstream education
    Half truths in OE - What is OE?
    SC list of OECs - Survey 1994
    List of abbreviations
    List of useful dates


    "There is much of value in this book. It shows how approaches to outdoor learning have changed over time and yet have a strong sense of continuity… having a grasp of the historical context will enrich our understanding and therefore put us in a stronger position to make use of the learning opportunities outdoor education presents. Fundamental to this book is the recognition that different people learn in different ways… Outdoor education focuses on the whole person and recognises that there is much to be learnt from activities, particularly those that involve engaging with nature… Outdoor learning has the potential to encourage a broader, more adventurous approach to learning and indeed to how we rise to the challenges our lives throw at us… This is an important book that documents an important history, It deserves to be widely read by educators of children and adults alike." Human Solutions Bulletin.