British Educational Research Journal, 36(6) pp 1017-1036
A significant volume of research demonstrates that out-of-school learning activities enhance student development in terms of cognitive, affective and social outcomes. However, there is also evidence that the opportunity to engage in these activities has been severely reduced in recent years. This paper explores the extent to which the provision of such opportunities is unevenly distributed—spatially and institutionally. The paper draws on research from two recently completed projects: one charting the distribution, attributes and vulnerability of local authority outdoor education centres across England and the other exploring variations in provision and participation in out-of-school learning within secondary schools throughout the UK. The paper highlights the uneven, precarious and uncertain nature of such activities and demonstrates that important regional and structural variations in the support and provision of opportunities for such activities by local authorities appear to have an important role in determining the provision of activities at the level of the schools.