Whilst recently picking the brains of the directors in order to produce a written history of The Outdoors Group (more on that another time!), we took some time to reflect on the phenomenal success of our Transitional Learning Programme (TLP). At this point, I realised that this incredible service of ours was well overdue a blog post; explaining what it does, how it works and celebrating it’s successes!
What is TLP?
So what exactly is the Transitional Learning Programme? Quite simply put, it offers learners who are struggling in their primary educational settings 1:1 sessions with our highly experienced staff on one of our woodland sites across Devon. The goal of these sessions is to address whatever issues may be preventing them from thriving and helps them to re-engage by improving mental health, self-confidence, resilience, and self-esteem. We sometimes have a few learners on the same site and this often results in new friendships and improved relational skills as the young people get to know each other and work together. Learners get involved in a veritable plethora of activities; from traditional Forest School activities such as woodwork, den building, fire lighting, nature exploration…etc to some of the less traditional – one learner chose to spend months bringing a rucksack of toy cars for small world play in the woods! The emphasis is on letting the learner choose what they want to do; giving them control over their time in the woods, to be able to explore their own interests and work through anything they might need to in the way best suited to them.
When did it start?
Before it had the snazzy name, what was termed as ‘intervention’ started in 2015 with several local schools. After seeing incredible results from these initial students and as word got out in the educational community, we were soon inundated with placement requests. Before long, we had learners at four sites across Devon and were struggling to keep up with demand. We saw that there was a clear gap in our area for this kind of provision and in the summer of 2019, we appointed our incredible manager, Amanda Leach, and renamed the provision. Since then, we have gone from strength to strength and Amanda now manages her team of 15 who run TLP sessions across 7 sites all over Devon. Over the last year, requests for placements have sky-rocketed as the aftershocks of covid has resulted in an increasing number of children and young people struggling in their main educational setting.
Whilst to us, the success of this provision is evident simply through demand and on-the-ground feedback alone, we wanted to take some time to record the results more empirically. Some recent research produced the following statistics:
Success rate for learners to go to The Outdoors School or re engage successfully in a full time educational setting: 96%
Attendance statistics including referrals by area: currently 85% with 73% of referrals coming from the Exeter area 22% from Exmouth area and 5% from other areas (Tiverton, Okehampton)
We are so proud of this provision and the commitment of our staff to supporting these children and young people in this manner. And nothing makes us prouder than receiving an email like the one below which we’ll leave you with as testament to the difference our Transitional Learning Programme makes to learners in Devon:
H has been a part of the TLP for two years now and it has far surpassed our expectations. He has been cared for and accepted for who he is. He has been gently supported, while at the same time being stretched and encouraged to build relationships with staff and other students. When he comes out of the forest now, he chats about who he has spent time with, what he has done with his day, and even knows his new friends’ names! H has doubled the amount of time he spends in the forest and will even eat there (a huge achievement for H and the staff supporting him!). We have nothing but praise for this excellent programme and the individuals working within it.
Author: Hannah Durdin, Content Whizz & Forest School Leader Date: Friday 14th May