Wellbeing and social benefits

There is a similar picture emerging from the more complex data on social and emotional development, and from our analyses of linguistic complexity.

We used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire completed by teachers (about their pupils) and children. This standard measure is scored online to give a number of domains of social and emotional competence. The most interesting data was from the teachers whose questionnaires gave an overall score and a score for Hyperactivity. Again we compared Wilderness Schooling children with those who stayed in school to get a sense of the impact that could be attributed to Wilderness Schooling.

For the Wilderness Schooling group, teachers report overall social/emotional problems falling over the period of intervention, with

  • social/emotional problems scores of 6.80 falling to 4.78, and
  • hyperactivity scores of 3.29 falling to 1.86.

When we compare this with children continuing to work in school, we see teachers reporting no change in their overall problem behaviours: time 1 scores are 6.38 and time 2 are 6.34. Most interestingly, teachers report hyperactivity rising slightly: time 1 scores are 2.67 and time 2 are 2.84.

Developing fluency in English is such a priority for us (amongst all the other priorities) especially for children who are either ignored or not expected to have an opinion. There are communities where cultural expectations don’t help us in achieving for certain. Wilderness Schooling makes such intuitive sense, there is a secret ingredient I think. Whatever it is, it is most striking. They come back talking. You can do most things if they are talking to each other. Westgate Hill Primary School, Newcastle

CPD for teachers

We also made a difference to the school-staff who accompanied the children and to the curriculum planning of the school departments from which they came. The intervention was aimed at broadening the scope of their curriculum delivery and enlivening the classroom experience for pupils.

This is a leafy little town, and you might assume that our children do not struggle in the way others might, but that is far from the truth. We have the full range, and Wilderness School is a great fit with our aim for inclusive delivery. I was expecting it to be good for the children, and it was. I did not really think about the effect on colleagues. Refreshed teaching, new eyes on the curriculum, linking subjects in surprising and creative ways. Of course I knew they had it in them… but well done! Richard Coates Middle School, Ponteland, Northumberland

We recognise the importance of more robust assessment measures for this aspect of the intervention, which we will address in future work.

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