Outdoor education

Work with others to be active and safe in outdoor environments and learn to assess risk and different emergency response procedures.

Students may undertake either 100 or 200 hours of study in Outdoor Education in Stage 5. Courses are structured in the following ways:

  • a 100-hour course consisting of Core and a minimum of three options
  • a 200-hour course consisting of Core and a minimum of seven options.

Outdoor education develops in each student the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to understand and identify with the surrounding wilderness environments and conduct themselves in a safe manner in the outdoors.

Professional learning

Course information for leaders

Outdoor education was a new course in 2022. The content is organised in modules reflective of five focus areas:

  • outdoor activity and exploration skills
  • environmental awareness, conservation and sustainability
  • personal and social skills, growth and development
  • connecting with the natural environment
  • health, safety and wellbeing in the outdoors.

Students may undertake either 100 or 200 hours of study in Outdoor education in Stage 5. Courses are structured in the following ways:

  • 100-hour course comprises the core and a minimum of 3 options
  • 200-hour course comprises the core and a minimum of 7 options

Schools are required to complete the core module with all students. It should precede any options and be taught in full. Schools develop programs by selecting option modules and/or integrating content from option modules. Option modules can be studied in any order.

Outdoor education is based on experiential learning where students explore and gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings. Students learn through planning and participating in outdoor experiences and reflecting on their involvement.

The course has links with NSW Stage 5 HSIE, science and PDHPE curriculum.

The course will provide students with a pathway into 3 proposed Stage 6 courses:

  • Course A – Outdoor and environmental studies (ATAR).
  • Course B – Outdoor education general course.
  • Course C – Certificate II in outdoor recreation.

School-based outdoor education programs should have a strong focus on practical application, movement and experiential learning in outdoor environments.

When selecting practical applications, schools are encouraged to provide students with:

  • the opportunity to explore a broad range of outdoor education experiences to identify with activities which they may pursue beyond school
  • the opportunity to transfer knowledge and build personal and social skills across contexts and appreciate the variety of benefits from connecting with the natural environment to support lifelong health, well-being and relationships
  • new experiences and challenges beyond those offered through the mandatory PDHPE Years 7-10 course
  • experiences and activities that are relevant and suitably challenging for students and that can be supported by school and community resources.

Some students with disability may require adjustments, including the use of adaptive equipment or additional support in order to engage in practical and/or theoretical applications.

In addition, schools should be aware of department policies in relation to the safe conduct of particular activities and reflect on their capacity to meet these requirements when selecting the areas of emphasis in their course.

The course

Schools must use the course document (DOCX 1165KB) to develop educational programs for this course to comply with the Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 Policy and associated policy standards.

Scope and sequences are flexible documents and may vary according to local school contexts and student cohorts, provided they comply with the course documents.


Outdoor education assessment advice (DOCX 141 KB) is available to assist teachers to select a range of different activities for the purpose of assessing and reporting.

Department-approved elective courses are not eligible for credentialing on the Record of School Achievement (RoSA). Assessment activities should reflect the school's organisation of the course and provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

Teaching resources

Schools may choose to adapt or modify this content or use other materials suitable to their local context, provided they comply with the course documents.

For more information


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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