New research highlights the value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) within Aotearoa New Zealand schools


A significant research piece funded by Education Outdoors New Zealand (EONZ) and the Ministry of Education has just been published. This piece shows the value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) within Aotearoa New Zealand schools.

This research involved 523 school leaders and EOTC coordinators. Results show that 96% of participants felt that EOTC was extremely or very important to their school. As a result, four key themes emerged on the value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC):

  1. Curriculum enrichment and real world learning
  2. Increasing student engagement
  3. Building learning relationships and connections
  4. Experiencing something new

Further below we explore these four key themes and what it means for you as a teacher.

Students reading a map for William Pike Challenge Activity

1. Curriculum enrichment and real world learning

When asked about the value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC), curriculum enrichment came out on top. It’s no surprise that the familiar catch‐phrase, ‘EOTC brings the curriculum alive’ was used by many teachers to describe how EOTC experiences enrich student experiences.

Teachers running the William Pike Challenge often comment on real world learning being critical to develop key competencies. Of course, there are many real world experiences that can’t take place in a classroom. Thankfully, EOTC is a perfect way to develop students’ 21st century skills, such as confidence, leadership, resilience, self awareness, empathy and self esteem.

2. Increasing student engagement

The study found that Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) enables students to connect with their learning topic and environments. Furthermore, many students said that the sense of responsibility they felt during EOTC had a positive impact on their motivation to learn. The physical space, social dynamics and interactions that learning outdoors provided, also contributed to increased student engagement.

Utilizing local community facilities and the outdoor environment is a fantastic place to start when looking for authentic learning experiences to engage students.

William Pike Challenge Community Service

3. Building relationships and connections

Teachers, school leaders and students consider Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) to be extremely valuable when it comes to developing interpersonal skills and relationships. Specifically, EOTC encourages students to connect with a wider circle of peers and get to know their teachers better. It’s important to note, these enhanced relationships positively impacted learning back at school. Also, students were more comfortable asking questions, asking for help in class and working together in groups.

The William Pike Challenge (WPC) has given us insights into 100’s of schools around the country. As a result,  we’ve seen first hand the value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) for building relationships. WPC teachers and students consistently report that the development of relationships between students and adults is accelerated in outdoor EOTC experiences. It also gave students the opportunity to make new friendships with other students they wouldn’t necessarily mix with. This is further backed up with 87% of parents in a 2019 WPC in house survey saying their child had become more confident in working with people of different personalities and skills.

4. Experiencing something new

The contrast between Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) learning opportunities and school‐based learning generated a sense of newness and enjoyment for students. EOTC promoted fresh and memorable insights about what was ‘out there’ beyond the students’ immediate ‘bubble’, and the variety brought unpredictability and excitement to learning.

A number of students commented on the attraction, anticipation, and engagement generated from going to different places. This finding reiterates the value of varied EOTC experiences and the potential for powerful student learning and engagement.

Embrace EOTC for your students in 2021

With 94 schools participating in the William Pike Challenge across the country, we know that value of Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) is exponential.

If you’re looking for an exciting way to improve student engagement, enrich your curriculum and build relationships, you should run the William Pike Challenge at your school in 2021. You’ll give your students their best EOTC learning experiences ever, and prepare them for tomorrow’s world. You’ll also build essential life skills, key competencies and have heaps of fun along the way. Visit our website to get involved.

To download the comprehensive EOTC report, visit the EONZ website.