MPs: Let schoolchildren out of the classroom

By staff

Schoolchildren are in danger of being ‘entombed’ in the classroom, MPs have said.

A report by the children, families and schools committee today said learning opportunities outside schools must not become the sole preserve of the wealthy and privileged.

It recommends that all children should be guaranteed at least one trip away form school per term.

The committee, chaired by Labour MP for Huddersfield, Barry Sheerman said: “The funding of learning outside the classroom initiatives remains inadequate; teachers’ health and safety concerns, which have been a significant barrier to school trips, have yet to be assuaged; and teacher training continues to pay scant attention to preparing teachers to lead learning outside the classroom.”

The report calls for extra funding for school trips by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, saying: “Learning outside the classroom urgently needs high profile champions, within the department and nationally.”

In response, schools minister Diana Johnson said: “We have consistently made clear that time spent learning outside the classroom should be an integral part of every child’s education.
“We are disappointed the committee has not fully recognised the huge progress made. There is more to do – but the fact is that the vast majority of England’s eight million children do take part in educational visits throughout the year.

“Central funding is not the be-all and end-all of learning outside the classroom. The key is making sure that individual schools and teachers make the most of the trips and visits now available to pupils.

“It is wrong to wrap children in cotton wool as they grow up and schools should not let fears of paperwork or ungrounded fears of being sued deny their pupils educational opportunities.”