Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years


Jan White C.V. (Sept 2011)

Current role: Nationally recognised independent early childhood consultant working across the UK to advocate and support high quality outdoor provision and experience for children from birth to five years olds in educational settings.

Main qualifications:

B.Sc. (Reading University, Soil Science, 1st class)

M.Sc. (UCNW Bangor, Ecology)

P.G.C.E. (Exeter University, Science & Outdoor Education)

NVQ Assessor Awards D32 & D33.


Author of Playing and Learning Outdoors: making provision for high-quality experiences in the outdoor environment (Routledge, 2008)

Editor of Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (Sage, 2011)

Consultant/author for Two-Year-Olds Outdoors, Toddlers Outdoors and Babies Outdoors (Siren Films, 2010)

Over 40 articles in major early years magazine publications.

Training & consultancy activity:

Training provider for over 20 Local Authority CPD departments in England and Wales

Keynote speaker at conferences for early years practitioners across the UK and abroad

Founding Associate, British Society for Early Childhood Education (Early Education)

Visiting Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University (EYPS courses)

Pedagogical/Play Advisor, PlayGarden (Timberplay) and Land Use Consultants

Mentor, Sandfield Natural Play Centre.

Research activity:

Landscape Researcher, Sheffield University

Co-founder of Landscapes for Early Childhood network (UKwide)

Active within the European Early Childhood Research Association (EECERA) special interest group on outdoor play and learning, and the World Forum Foundation’s working groups on connecting children with nature (NACC) and ECE environment design (OnDesign).

Previous relevant positions:

Associate Consultant with Early Excellence

Associate Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University, teaching Early Childhood Education degree (QTS)

Senior Early Years Development Officer for Learning through Landscapes, setting up national support for developing outdoor provision in early years settings

Quality Development Officer, Sheffield Young Children’s Service, supporting all types of early years providers

Preschool Learning Alliance, Training Officer & Tutor for Sheffield Branch

Teacher, Oxford County Council, Hill End environmental education centre, covering all aspects of primary curriculum (5-12 yrs) through learning outdoors.

2 thoughts on “C.V.

  1. Dear Jan

    I have been so inspired by your work into getting more kids outdoors, it is one of the most important things we can do at the moment! I was wondering if you could help me..?

    I am a Year 12 student in Gloucester, and am currently researching a project for the Extended Project Qualification. My project title is

    ‘To what extent is Outdoor Activity important for young people in Gloucestershire under 18?’

    I am really trying to prove that it is important, and for my secondary research have come up with three main sections for the benefits it brings for young people; physical benefits (e.g. reduction of ADHD, Vitamin D from the sunshine, gross and fine motor skills, muscle development, and prevention of obesity), psychological benefits (e.g. prevention of depression, unstructured play, different types of play, development of problem solving skills), and finally sociological/ wider benefits, (e.g. improved social skills, greater respect for the natural world, and therefore a generation who will respect their world in challenging times).

    There seems to be a split in the benefits for different age ranges, as throughout primary school the benefits seem to be very developmental, especially in an education system that largely doesn’t seem to provide much education out of doors, and where many parents do not have the time to do this themselves. In secondary school the problems are similar, but the benefits seem to point more towards the prevention of crime, social and environmental awareness, psychological wellbeing, and physical wellbeing also.

    I have found information in all of these areas, but was wondering if you would be able to provide further information to help my project and its development? Any reasons for the importance of young people being outdoors would be fantastic, and your extensive research is something I’d be really interested in. Any other ideas would also be greatly appreciated! In particular, I cannot find any surveys that give concrete facts and figures to support my findings, or detailed academic research.

    In addition, in your opinion what is the best way to start making a difference as a young person now? Are the any projects that I could get involved in?

    Thank you in advance! I hope that my project will inspire more young people to get out in the Great Outdoors, something that I firmly believe has the potential to improve our world for the better.

    Yours sincerely,

    Helen Tatlow

    • Hi Helen, the research and studies you are looking for are probably best collected by the Children and Nature Network in the USA – they have several volumes of research publication collections covering all aspects of being outdoors for all ages during childhood (and parenting). Also, try Play England’s website, as they have carried out several literature surveys (especially Maudsley & Lester’s review Play Naturally) and Learning through Landscapes (www.ltl.org.uk) did a literature survey on children and nature (Heading Out). Tim Gill recently wrote a very useful review of the evidence (Children and Nature) for the London Sustainable Development Commission, and Natural England’s very recent Natural Childhood report has several references that might be of use.
      Regarding your interets in getting involved, I started with my local county Wildlife Trust as an education volunteer for WATCH groups as well as conservation work, and I can recommend that to you. Also, I’m an adviser for a new campaign called ‘Save childhood’ where we are looking at creating a group around maintaining children’s connection to the outdoors and nature – it would be great to involve you as an expert input: would you be interested? Hope the project goes well, Jan.

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