Year 5–6 (typically 10–12 yrs of age)
Students are introduced to outdoor recreation is part of an Australian way of life through stories and direct experience. At this age range students can begin to develop skills and knowledge to participate safely in outdoor recreation activity and understand how this contributes to their own health and wellbeing. They begin to understand the importance of ecological well-being in fostering human well-being, and how they can contribute to this process. They begin to explore the impact of human activities on natural environments and strategies to minimize these impacts that include technological, structural, educational and individual behaviour initiatives. Students can begin to take greater responsibility for their own well-being and participation in outdoor activities through packing their own kit for camp and making decisions about some aspects of programming. They can begin to take on minor leadership roles within the group in outdoor settings, and are provided opportunities for increased freedom within boundaries.
Year 7–8 (typically 12–14 yrs of age)
Students begin to develop skills and knowledge to undertake more extended journeys in natural environments, and begin to develop skills of interdependence within the group. They are able to develop higher levels of skill and have greater capacity for endurance. Through lightweight expeditions they are able to develop greater responsibility for self, as well as immerse themselves in natural environments for longer. They begin to know accepted codes of practice for lightweight and other journeys in natural environments to minimize environmental impact and to respect other users of these environments. Through reflection and introspection they explore their place in the world and in nature, and what positive contributions they might make. Through short periods of reflective time in natural settings they develop greater knowledge of the role of nature in promoting well being and balance to western living. They begin to develop strategies to manage minor incidents in the outdoors and other places. They develop deeper knowledge of seasons, climate, growth and landscape and investigate adaptations in the Australian context. They begin to explore natural environments from a field naturalist perspective, and learning the role and place of different species in ecosystems.
Year 9–10 (typically 14–16 yrs of age)
In these years, students develop a deeper understanding and reasons for codes of conduct in outdoor recreation activities. They begin to explore more adventurous activities as a way of exploring self and nature, and the lessons that can be learned for everyday living. In these years students are increasingly required to assess and mange risk in both recreation and everyday lives. Through engagement in more adventurous outdoor activity students can learn to gain skills for personal and group wellbeing and lay the foundation for ongoing healthy safe outdoor recreation participation. They are now capable of developing the knowledge and skills to prepare for and participate in an independent lightweight journey with adult guidance and supervision. They can now assume leadership roles in group management during these journeys. They are able to assume increased responsibility for the nature and forms of such journeys, and have increased appreciation for the role of vistas and expanse in developing a sense of wonder for the natural world. They begin to develop an understanding of the impact of decision making by administrative bodies and governments on natural environments through investigation of recent issues relating to conservation. Through conservation service learning students can develop increased sense of self-efficacy and citizenry towards the natural environment, and begin to develop their own ideas and strategies to support such efforts.
Senior secondary (typically 16–18 yrs of age)
In these years students are emerging into adulthood and seek to assume more adult roles, but may not be ready to begin to assume adult responsibilities. Outdoor Education can assist this transition to an active outdoors, environmentally responsible, empathetic citizen. Students are ready to learn more technical skills of adventurous journeys, manage the risks effectively, and assume self reliant leadership after demonstrating appropriate planning and preparation. They are ready to begin mentoring others in foundational activities, and to develop their own ideas for lifelong engagement in outdoor activities. They are able to critically reflect on such experiences, and envisage how they can embed ‘the outdoor life’ as part of their way of being. They are able to develop higher order thinking with regards to decision making in the field and analysing such decisions. They are able to engage in higher level critical thinking about political and sociological issues that support health and well being of individuals and the environment. They are able to engage in more complex discussion of systems in nature and the relationship to environmental health and western lifestyles. They are able to construct reasoned arguments that demonstrate empathy for the often opposing and complex economic and social demands on areas of natural significance. They are able to generate ideas for alternative actions and are able to engage with community bodies that seek to support positive actions towards nature.