Simon Buckberry

Unlocking the Hidden Curriculum

The hidden curriculum considers what the pupil is learning as a side effect of the schooling process. The skill can be both positive or negative and is affected by social values, which a teacher holds and operates by. The article will look at whether the outdoors can help unlock the features of the hidden curriculum.

Michelle Sager (thought to be a pioneer in this field) has looked at understanding the hidden curriculum by connecting teachers to themselves, their students, and the earth.

By training teachers to believe this idea, it allows them to become:

Can Outdoor Learning Help to Unlock the Hidden Curriculum?

Outdoor learning is a tool that can pinpoint each soft skill within the hidden curriculum, either by covering ‘one off’ sessions or a progression of focused sessions. By allowing all children to engage in outdoor learning, the environment allows many skills to be taught without judgment and helps the child to make up their own mind and display their own behaviours about a concept.

From independent research, developing their understanding about the positive outcomes of outdoor learning and creating solutions to making outdoor learning better, enables appropriate dialogue around its effectiveness and also self-reflection, which could be transformative and translate into behaviour change.

This research is transferable to other settings with access to outdoor facilities, but can be argued that it cannot be generalised with the whole UK population, due to some schools not having outdoor facilities, regular outdoor learning opportunities for all, and the demands of the curriculum from the government.

Examples of how to unlock the hidden curriculum by using outdoor learning:


  • Raising your hand to speak
  • Not speaking while others are speaking
  • Being respectful to others

Work hard

  • How to work with others
  • Being on time to class
  • To know when you need to take a break


  • To be well equipped for the task in hand
  • To have a voice
  • If needed, ask for guidance

These three elements above are imperative for a child to understand the benefits of education. By exposing different environments and activities, it can help unlock the features of the hidden curriculum. In conclusion, by using an outdoor learning toolkit to help facilitate the hidden curriculum, it can improve a young person’s skill set.

Simon Buckberry

A special needs teacher at a local academy trust in Grantham. Have experience with governing at a primary school and have completed my Primary Education degree in 2015.

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