Following the publication of the Blagrave report in 2015, highlighting the need for better join-up between academics and practitioners and better co-ordination of research activity in the sector, the Institute is supporting the establishment of regional research hubs through 2017 and funding a research co-ordinator role.
Pilot regional hubs will draw together research that has been carried out and is ongoing as well as identifying the current and future research needs of practitioners in Outdoor Learning. The intention is to support high quality, frequent and progressive Outdoor Learning (OL) for children and young people, by enabling a more integrated approach to research and practice at a local level. Working with a range of partners we hope to provide a more unified voice for Outdoor Learning to influence policy and practice, and to establish a broader platform on which to seek further funding to extend the research evidence base.
The initial pilot hubs are in the North West contact Heather Prince at the University of Cumbria, South West contact Alun Morgan at Plymouth University, Scotland contact Dr Greg Mannion at the University of Stirling and South East contact Sarah O’Malley at The Bay Trust. If these pilot hubs are successful, it is likely that research hubs will extend to other areas of the UK.
Dr Chris Loynes Reader, Outdoor Studies, at the University of Cumbria will be leading the National Research Hub.
The Strategic Research Group for Learning in Natural Environments (SRG LINE) was established in 2012 to support the advancement of policy and practice in this area by facilitating a more integrated and strategic approach to research, evaluation and use of evidence. It is supported by Natural England and CLOtC and is a growing partnership of the leading relevant academic institutions in this area, plus other key individuals and agencies.