Research Hubs


Current Initiative for Research Hubs


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.


Institute for Outdoor Le/arning


University of Cumbria





Natural England


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 hubs are; in the North West contact Heather Prince at the University of Cumbria, North East contact Eric Fletcher & Lucy Tiplady, Newcastle University, Midlands contact Elaine Skates, The Heart of England Forest, South West contact Alun Morgan at Plymouth University, Scotland contact Bonnie Maggio at Scottish Forestry, South East contact Sarah O’Malley at The Bay Trust and Wales contact Graham French at Bangor University.

If these 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.


Outdoor Learning Research Hub Updates


July 2018

Horizons Research Hub Update July 2018



  1. Gill, T. (2011). Children and Nature 2008. Children and Nature: A Quasi-Systematic Review of the Empirical Evidence, (November) 1–34. For the FULL report
  2. UKNEA. (2011). UKNEA Synthesis of the Key Findings. UnepWcmc, 87. Report.
  3. Dillon, J., Morris, M., et al. (2005). Engaging and Learning with the Outdoors (April) 90.
  4. Waite, S., Passy, R., et al. (2016). Natural connections demonstration project, 2012- 2016: Final report.
  5. Fiennes, C., E. Oliver, et al. 2015. The Existing Evidence Base about the Effectiveness of Outdoor Learning. Giving Evidence. Final Report

March 2018

Horizons Research Hub Update March 2018



  1. Waite, S., Passy, R., Gilchrist, M., Hunt, A. & Blackwell, I. (2016).
    Natural connections demonstration project, 2012- 2016: Final report.
  2. Kendall, S., & Rodger, J. (2015). Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Evaluation of Learning Away: Final Report.