RCE Oldenburger Münsterland-2016

1. Project Title: 
ACEWild - Alternative Curriculum Education out of the Wild
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
Select your options: 
Other (please clarify) : 
Technical Vocational Education and Training
Curriculum Development
3. Project partner contact information : 
Norfolk County Council
Main Contact: 
Environmental and Outdoor Learning Team
Norfolk County Council,UK
4. Project type
Select the relevant type for your project: 
Other (please clarify) : 
Strategie Partnerships for vocational education and training
Research project on curriculum development for outdoor learning activities
5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

The ACEWild initiators used the european RCE Network to assemble a consortium of regional networks to bring together experts on outdoor learning from the formal and non-formal educationale sector. RCE Rhine-Meuse, Netherland, RCE Oldenburger Münsterland, Germany and RCE East Midlands, UK with their local networks of vocational and secondary schools realized the project objectives.

There is a gap in the provision of support for secondary school, schoobased, environmental, outdoor vocational learning targeted at students who demonstrate challenging behaviour or have a strong desire to engage in learning through the outdoors. Young people must now remain in education until they are 18, meaning that the outdoor learning context will be of huge importance, relevance and inspiration to these same young people who are, on average, more likely to become ‘Not in Employment, Education or Training’ (NEET).

lt is also recognised that high quality opportunities for these groups cf students may enable them to gain the skils, experiences and attttudes to access further education,jobs and careers in the outdoor/environmenlalseclor. Meanwhile, these contexts are ollen more engagingfor more vulnerable students than the traditional 14-19 curriculum.

Alternatlve Curriculum Education out cf the Wild (ACEWild) aims to traln and support educators (In collaboration with localspeciallst providers) so that they can provide lang term, high quality, environmental and outdoor learning opportunities specifically tailored to young people demonstrating challenging behaviour (including those that have made a spec ic choice to learn in the outdoors) and which is cf direct relevance to their future careers and further educational opportunities.

ACEWild provides a transferable ,school-based modelwhich supports the professional development cf teachers and provides practitioners with the tools and inspiration !hat they need to develop and implement their own schoobased programme. This framework will take educators through a process; from identify young people's needs to how educators can meet these needs through an 'Alternative Curriculum', specifically in partnership wtt:h bcal 'education and employment' partners.

The project achieved this aim through two areas of werk:

  1. Action Research: The 3countries involved delivered,in partnership, 2 sets cf 12sessions aimed specifically at more vulnerable young people;using outdoor and environmentaVsustainable resource use/green economy themes. This researchwas key to developing an informed model cf practice that was welevaluated and based on diverse partner experience,including sharing cf the most innovative ideas,approaches,practices and solutions.

2) The development of resources!hat can be used for training, or directly accessed by practitioners through a website (Open EducationalResource) www.acewild.eu;These resources comprise cf a range cf 'tried and tested'educational activities and approaches (including session plans, evaluation methods (including Social Return onInvestment), case-studies. heath, safety and weare information), using envi"onmental and outdoor learning contexts with various localeducation and employment partners .

Over the 2 years (2014 - 2016) the programme brought 7 organisations, across 3countries together 4 times;

  • Norfolk County Council,UK; Environmental and Outdoor Learning Team, based at Holt Hall,with extensive experience supporting schools to become more sustainable; providing teacher training, residential experiences for young people and leading European projects in the area cf resource management and outdoor learning.
  • Aylsham High Scheel, UK; An innovative scheel,further developing their growing expertise around supportingvu erable young people to reach their potentials through using outdoor learning contexts.
  • Susted, UK;A smallenterprise specialising in consultancy,support and training with a focus on sustainable development. Susted has workedwith a range cf schools, vocationa lcolleges, universities and enterprises,in addition to being involved in a large number cf multinational projects.
  • Gelderest Outdoor Education Ltd, UK;A small business specialising in providing best-practice outdoor and environmental education to Norfolk schools and communities, within their local environment.
  • RCE Rhine-Meuse, Netherlands; A Regional Centre cf Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development for the Netherlands and the EU regkm;comprising cf 4 universities , 10 municipalities, 3 provinces and 20 primary and secondary schools.
  • Sint Jans College, Netherlands; A city-based college known for its innovative approaches and technology.
  • RCE Oldenburger Münsterland e.V„ Germany; A Regional Centre cf Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development for the district of Cloppenburg and Vechta in Germany,targeting its activities to formal and non-formal educational organisations which focus on youth and young adults.

As a result cf the above. we have better informed teachers,with the tools they need to enable schoo based education provision!hat meets the needs of more vulnerable young people.Also!hat the target young people wi not only have a curriculum which is more suited to their specific needs, but will also be of direct relevance (& Inspiration) to their future employment.

6. Project status
The original aims were fully met

1) Sharing experiences and developing a framework for the 1st Action Research (AR) period.
Different starting points, experience and understanding for some of the terms all had an impact on how quickly partners could envisage and develop the 1st AR period (IO1). The use of half the exceptional cost (a) funding for the training course, run by Jon Cree, was very well received (evidenced through agenda and evaluation forms; 19 respondents, when asked “to what extent will this training session influence your work with children” answered, an average, 1.36 (1 ‘to a great extent’ & 4 ‘not at all’). Time was spent exploring what was meant by challenging behaviour, techniques used in the outdoors and evaluation methods for charting impact/informing learning. However it was apparent that German Partners attending the transnational meeting 1 did not have experience/confidence of outdoor learning, whilst Dutch partners did not ‘identify’ that they had young people in the potential ‘NEET’ category and had no natural outdoor space in or close to the school. However, there was excellent consensus on evaluation techniques to be trialled and developed. Meanwhile, the UK supported 10 of the 12 days that German colleagues undertook (whilst develop ICT in the outdoors, as this was a very strong specialism of the German teachers). Dutch colleagues used sustainable development contexts and outreached to local business community with a larger than expected group of students (within which they evaluated a smaller target group of students). It also became very apparent that straitjacketing schools to do 12 weeks of 1 day was impossible and thus all adapted to what the schools could accommodate (UK;1 day per week, Dutch; 2 sessions per week and German colleagues; 2 days pre-programme, 10 very long intense days followed by consolidation sessions). These early adaptations significantly improved the potential for transferability to other schools and did not influence the quality of action research. Evidenced by the 7 Action Research Period 1 case studies on the OER/website). Approval was sought and given for the changes.

2) Needs identification tools both went to plan.
Initially UK partners had a much broader partner list (see mapping of education/employment partners in partnership section). However in Action Research period 2 it was very apparent (through the AR case studies) that both Dutch and German partners had extended their partners considerably. All partners used a core needs analysis tool (SDQ) and evaluation methods (PEMS/+) and 1 student based method (bush telegraph/redroom), in addition to trialling and developing a host of other tools. A specific picture anlysis tool was developed by RCE Oldenburger Münsterland and University of Vechta.

3)Management of health and safety (H&S), maintaining partnerships with Local Education and Employment Partners and mapping qualifications were all much more relevant to the UK audience. However, the same H&S frameworks are offered on the website (in each language) as is formally expected by UK schools. Dutch and German partner have their own very different and country-specific pages.

4)Acton Research alternative curriculum case studies objectives have all been fully met.

5) Website www.acewild.eu
8. Tagging
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