Stage 1 | Subject outline | Version control

Outdoor Education Stage 1
Subject outline

Version 4.0 - For teaching in 2024.
Accredited in August 2019 for teaching at Stage 1 from 2020.

Stage 1 | Subject outline | Learning Framework

Learning framework 

Stage 1 Outdoor Education is a 10-credit subject or a 20-credit subject that consists of three interrelated focus areas. Together, the learning through these three focus areas enables students to develop and extend the core skills, knowledge, and understanding required to be safe, active, and informed participants in natural environments. The core skills, knowledge, and understanding are integrated in each of the focus areas and developed through experiential learning in the context of activities and journeys in natural environments. Students study all three focus areas:

  • Focus Area 1: Environment and conservation
  • Focus Area 2: Planning and management
  • Focus Area 3: Personal and social growth and development.
The interrelationship of the focus areas is shown in the diagram below.

Outdoor activities might include, for example, bushwalking, canoeing, rock climbing, and surfing. Outdoor journeys involve human-powered activities between more than one site.

For a 10-credit subject, students undertake a range of outdoor activities and journeys. At least one journey should be undertaken, with a duration of at least 3 days in the field.

For a 20-credit subject, students undertake a range of outdoor activities and journeys. At least two journeys should be undertaken, each with a duration of at least 3 days in the field.

The learning framework for Stage 1 Outdoor Education


Skills, knowledge, and understanding for learning in natural environments

Students develop an appreciation of their place in natural environments through learning experiences that take place in a range of locations. As they spend time learning in natural environments, students develop a range of skills, knowledge, and understanding to support and manage safe, sustainable, and responsive experiences in natural environments.

Students develop planning skills, and consider risk management and relevant practical skills for outdoor experiences that enable them to travel in a safe and environmentally sustainable way through natural environments. Through these experiences, students develop self-confidence and group skills to productively contribute to successful outcomes, and use critical and creative thinking skills when applying reflective practice processes to develop and grow their practical and personal skills.

Students develop the following skills, knowledge, and understanding through the study of the three focus areas.

Preparation and planning

  • develop an understanding of the natural environment to be explored
  • make planning choices, including identifying equipment that is fit for purpose
  • identify the practical and outdoor skills required for specific activities and journeys, and participate in appropriate training (some technical practical skills would need to be learnt prior to application in the natural environment to ensure the safety of all students, e.g. rock-climbing and kayaking skills); examples of skills include:
    • navigational skills
    • route planning
    • selection of appropriate equipment and clothing
    • minimal-impact camping skills
    • consideration of appropriate food and nutrition
    • technical skills relevant to the activity, e.g. belaying techniques, knots, paddling.
  • consider likely risk scenarios in natural environments and consider the consequences
  • develop personal capabilities and apply learning and skills to real-world experiences in natural environments.

Managing risk

  • understand the concepts of risks in natural environments
  • plan risk-reduction strategies and emergency-action plans, including casualty management
  • develop an understanding of the legal and moral responsibilities of outdoor activities.

Teamwork and decision-making

  • identify and apply effective teamwork appropriate to the circumstances
  • develop problem-solving skills during outdoor activities and journeys
  • value and encourage positive individual contributions to group decision-making in natural environments.