Wide Horizons: advice on the impact of adventure learning

23 Feb 2016

Wide Horizons, the Adventure Learning charity, believe that every child should have the opportunity to experience Adventure Learning as part of their education and development. However over 35% of the child population of the UK has never been to the countryside.

Volunteers from the National Audit Office (NAO) put together an advice document for Wide Horizons in order to address two questions:

1. Is there evidence that Adventure Learning has an impact on a child’s education?
2. How do you design research to investigate the impact of Wide Horizons?

The team of volunteers used Wide Horizon’s Theory of Change model as the framework for analysis. The ToC model allowed Wide Horizons staff and PBE volunteers to consider the intended impact of their programmes on individuals, but also wider societal benefits such as more environmentally-friendly young people and a more productive society.

A review of available evidence suggests that Adventure Learning does make a difference to academic achievement, however the evidence base is limited. The What Works Education Centre has estimated that participating in Adventure Learning enables an additional 3 months of progress in attainment over a year, with improved self-confidence, self-efficacy and motivation being other effects on the individual[1]. PBE volunteers recommended that Wide Horizons prioritise certain outcomes in order to begin measuring impact. Wide Horizons have decided to focus on resilience, confidence, communications and well-being in line with suggested outcomes from a report by the Young Foundation. PBE volunteers were able to offer suggestions on methodology.

We would like to thank Sarah Shakespeare, Julie Bouchard, Vasilisa Starodubtseva, Zaina Steityeh and Nathalie Larsen for their time and hard work on this advice report.