Overcoming barriers

An early task for the Exploring the Wider World project was to identify the barriers to taking children out and about beyond the setting. Only by finding out what was preventing practitioners and parents from being more active with their children, could we come up with solutions. These were the general barriers that were identified most frequently: transport, staff, families, risk assessments, challenging behaviour, and patterns of attendance. These were identified at all three initial sessions and on the project application forms. Settings were encouraged to barrier bust for themselves and the solutions from all of the sessions were collated. They can be found below.

General Barrier

Strand of barrier

Possibility to implement to overcome



-Small groups so public transport can be utilised

– Use immediate locality, so no transport is needed

– Buy group tickets

– Travel off peak

– Meet children and families at destination

– Dismiss from destination

– Staff insure cars for business use (some insurance companies do not charge for this)

– Explore the pattern of use of local mini-buses. Could these be used to help with transporting?

-Fund raise to cover costs of trip

– Use EYPP funding

– Ask for donations

– Bring the learning opportunities to the setting

Delays to public transport

– Take a selection of easily carried resources to engage children should there be a wait

– Have a selection of games/songs etc to play or sing with the children while waiting

– Check for delays before group leaves



– Utilise wider family members or significant people in the child’s life to accompany them

– Choose destinations families might be interested in going to

– Explain the learning the children will be benefitting from or experiencing whilst on the trip

– Start locally

– Give lots of notice

– Make trips short initially

Not giving permission

– Have general permission for local visits on admission form

– Make learning obvious to the family in a way that the family can access

– Utilise good relationships to explore reasons why families are reticent to give permission, put strategies in place to alleviate anxieties

– Include family in risk assessment of trip

– Family member to accompany trip

– Ensure trips are affordable



– Utilise all available staff from setting

– Organise trips for times when all staff are in

– Explore local volunteers and badge chasers e.g. Duke of Edinburgh etc

– Review setting policy for staff ratios on outings

– Take advantage of lower number sessions e.g. during periods of illness for the children


– Buddy a more experienced/confident staff member with a less so

– Involve them in the planning

– Involve them in the risk assessment

– Do a dummy run before the trip

– Start locally

– Make the trip short initially

– Go back to the same place as often as possible

Patterns of attendance

Term time visits as well as holiday visits

– Explore why pattern has become established

– Trial some short local visits in term-time

– Take small groups

Part time attendance

– Offer session swaps

– Have shorter regular visits on different days and sessions thus ensuring everybody gets turns without the need to alter sessions

Risk assessments


– Visit the same place often so that risk assessments can be utilised many times

– Keep them simple

– Risk assess in order for trip to be able to take place but danger to be minimised

– Complete with the children to ensure they are aware of the risks and how they could minimise them.

Challenging behaviour


– Ensure the child feels comfortable with the familiar adult

– Choose a visit that is meaningful and motivating to the child

– Have clear and consistent expectations

– Prepare the child well for the visit

– Break down the trip into meaningful and manageable chunks for the child

– Take smaller groups

– Be aware of triggers for the child

People in the community

– Have procedures in place to counteract

– Audit trip possibilities at different times to dispel or confirm thinking

– Work alongside PCSOs

The following section may be useful to consider when thinking about organising a trip.

The Health and Safety Executive – educational visits

  • Working with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the HSE’s 2011 High Level Statement was designed to counter myths about ‘health and safety’ preventing outings, trips and residentials, all of which the HSE recognises as vital to children’s learning and development.
  • Key message: Accidents and mistakes may happen on trips – but fear of prosecution has been blown out of all proportion.
    Read the HSE document

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

  • The CLOtC was formed from a coalition of organisations (including the Department for Education) promoting outdoor learning and play. Its website contains a wealth of information, advice and support on taking learning beyond the classroom – not just into the nursery garden or school grounds, but further afield to nature reserves, historic buildings and so on.
  • Key message: The “places” where learning happens can have a significant effect on how a young person engages with a subject or an idea. Learning outside the classroom can happen at almost any time and almost anywhere. As an essential way of learning it should not be restricted to the summer or as an “add-on”.
    Visit the website

Learning Away

  • The Learning Away initiative’s vision is for more children and young people to enjoy “brilliant residentials” and the life changing experiences they offer. Its early years advice acknowledges that babies and young children are often “residential” in their early years settings, insofar as they sleep, eat and play there. The website’s case studies reflect this reality.
  • Key message: Where trips are fully integrated into the life of the setting, and planned so that learning is embedded and reinforced back in the setting, they can provide extremely powerful, meaningful and memorable learning opportunities for children.
    Visit the early years Brilliant Residentials advice pages

Further reading

Overcoming barriers

An early task for the Outdoors and Active action researchers was to identify the barriers to taking children out and about beyond the setting.  Only

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Taking risks in play

Human beings are “hardwired” to take risks, from birth.  Babies take their first independent breaths; they decide to try crawling and walking and then running;

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Taking risks

Risk is a natural part of our existence, as we look to explore and make sense of the world around us. What is key is

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Planning trips out

This page brings together all the key project elements of thinking through a trip or a visit in one handy place, with downloadable resources for

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Your resources

Meaningful learning opportunities relating to understanding the world rely on rich and stimulating resources. Consider what you have Rich and well thought out resources make

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Taking 4-year-olds out

Most 4-year-olds can walk faster and further than their younger counterparts. This means that they can venture further afield than the three year olds in

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Using social media

Social media is a powerful tool for sharing examples of good practice and celebrating achievements – but there potential pitfalls, particularly relating to consent. We

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Cultural capital

This article by Early Education Associate Anni McTavish explores the term “cultural capital”, and what it might mean for early years practitioners and their settings.

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Transition is part of the maturation process. Most children and their families find moving from one stage to the next seamless. Transitions need careful planning and will

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