Orienteering in Schools
What is orienteering?
Orienteering is a combination of physical activity (walking and running), map reading, and problem-solving. Participants have to use a map to navigate between a series of ‘control points’ that are marked on the map. There are a great many alternative routes that can be followed by participants, even on a simple orienteering map with a relatively small number of ‘control points’.
Where can you do orienteering?
Although orienteering is often associated with the ‘Great Outdoors’, the school and its surrounding grounds are an excellent place to introduce orienteering, and many introductory and follow-up activities can take place within e.g. the school hall or classroom.
Why introduce orienteering to your school?
Orienteering is a great way to get children active and outdoors, to the benefit of both their physical and mental wellbeing. As well as the physical challenge of walking or running between points on a route, children develop map reading skills, such as using a compass, directional language, and interpreting map symbols and keys. Orienteering involves a significant element of problem-solving, as children e.g. work out the quickest way to navigate a route and also helps them to develop communication and team-working skills.
What you will need to get started with orienteering:
An orienteering map: Orienteering maps are usually simpler than e.g. Ordnance Survey maps. They use specific colours to denote different types of terrain and have a ‘key’ of simple symbols to represent objects or landscape features. They also have a symbol to indicate the direction of ‘magnetic north’ to enable participants to use a compass to help with navigation around a route. A series of ‘control points’ or ‘markers’ are marked on the map, which can be used to indicate different routes to be followed by navigating around the mapped area. For most schools, their orienteering map will be a map of the school grounds.
Control points or markers: These are specific points within the area of the orienteering map that have a physical marker displayed in a prominent position. For simple orienteering maps, such as those based on school grounds, control point markers can include numbers, letters, or other symbols that participants can record to show that they have visited that point.
Staff training: Whilst no specialist knowledge or experience is needed for a school to introduce orienteering, an initial training session for staff will enable orienteering to be successfully introduced across the whole school and to become a sustainable part of the school’s curriculum.
Enrich Education provides a comprehensive package of support and resources to enable schools to introduce orienteering and to maximise the benefits it can bring to children. The packages include the production of resources, such as bespoke maps of school sites, specially designed orienteering markers, outdoor learning activities, and additional resources such as active science and physical phonics packs that can be used alongside and within a school’s orienteering activities. In addition, we offer a comprehensive whole-school 1st4Sport Endorsed training package, which schools can access online or (where possible) face-to-face. Further information and prices of the different packages can be found on our School Orienteering page.
As with any physical activity, it is important to take health and safety into account when planning orienteering activities for children. A good source for advice and support on health and safety in all areas of school PE and sport is the Association for Physical Education (see below).
British Orienteering has a wealth of information and resources about orienteering:
Association for Physical Education