Outdoor learning

Provisions for outdoor learning will need to be considered in schools. There will be a much greater emphasis and reliance on outdoor learning as a way of physical distancing and providing extra space. The value of this should be strongly highlighted to local authorities, head teachers and staff and the public. Organisations such as WOSDEC, Field Studies Council and communuty groups will have a role in this. Goid practice examples from e.g Denmark could be explored.

Why the contribution is important

good for physical distancing, emotional health, active children, safety.

by Smcgra11 on May 05, 2020 at 04:30PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.7
Based on: 21 votes


  • Posted by MrsBoggs May 05, 2020 at 23:44

    I don't think we can socially distance children, but I'm all for outdoor learning.
  • Posted by TimP May 08, 2020 at 10:22

    There should be a clear directive from Scottish Government to Local Education Authorites they should be using the outdoor areas they have as part of the back to school strategy. There are clear evidenced educational benefits to being outdoors including closing the attainment gap and mental and physical health benefits.

    As a large percentage of the school estate across Scotland is outside, utilising this space would increase the area available for social distancing. Although not all schools have outdoor areas most of them have access to near by outdoor spaces they can utilise.

    There will be a need for investment into the areas and equipement to create 'outdoor classrooms' which are suitable learning spaces. There is also a need to help the staff to work in a new way and to adapt to our new normal. Within each Local Education Authority there is a representative of the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE.org.uk) who have the skills and network to help with this.

    This strategy of using outdoor space could be utilised across all the phases of education.

    As well as allowing education to resume it will also create new, a possibly better, way of delivering education to our young people.
  • Posted by JJackson May 08, 2020 at 12:07

    We have a real opportunity to change the way our children learn in school and to really embed outdoor learning whilst utilising spaces to maintain social distancing. I agree that this should be highlighted to all local authorities.
  • Posted by DGirling May 09, 2020 at 09:14

    Considering the requirements of education whilst medical advances are created relating to Covid 19. Education establishments require:

    *Physical distancing measures
    *No detriment to learning
    *Reduction of pupils in the school building
    *Healthy pupils
    *Low cost solutions

    We in Scotland are already ahead of the curve with Outdoor Learning (OL) embedded in CfE -Health and Wellbeing and Learning for Sustainability agenda.

    OL offers us:

    * low cost implementation and on costs
    *Low number of pupils in one space (physical distancing)
    *low resource / low infrastructure change
    * Maintain capacity
    * No detriment
    * Healthy students

    This could be through
    Sit spots in school grounds , trails, outdoor bubbles in svhopl grounds / local woodland / outdoor space for example. Tipi’s for shelter or a large outdoor tarp. Education are already doing a lot of this, especially in early years nurseries, largely through play. Why not extend this to primary and secondary? So much of our 5 levels within the CfE can be taught through learning outdoors in a practical experiential learning form. My students on the BA (Hons) Outdoor Education & Learning degree are studying this daily and finding practical ways to teach all of the curriculum. We have a workforce ready to support. You just need to press the button.

    DGirling - Programme Leader BA (Hons) Outdoor Education & Learning UHI
  • Posted by Longcroft May 11, 2020 at 13:09

    There is another thread on outdoor learning and my comments remain the same - I support the statement released today (11 May) by SAPOE ( the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education). There is plenty online (CfE documents/ GLOW and others) plus many outdoor learning professionals in LA to assist with this. regarding WOSDEC - the other Development Education Centres will have resources about linking Global citizenship with Learning for Sustainability outdoors.
    Just do it!
  • Posted by lornasl May 11, 2020 at 13:54

    If school grounds and local greenspace were utilised this would allow for social distancing and quality education in all stages of school and early years. Many schools and early education centres use outdoor learning for quality education in all areas of the curriculum. Evidence shows outdoor learning not only engages young people but benefits their health and wellbeing. Adequate clothing could be offered to ensure equity.
    Using local greenspaces could also encourage our young people to continue to enjoy this when not in school, no cost involved and accessible to all.
  • Posted by NatalieWhite May 11, 2020 at 15:01

    Outdoor Learning provides pupils the opportunity to engage in meaningful and relevant learning in their school grounds, natural greenspaces and wider communities. When undertaken properly using sound pedagogical approaches, pupils can connect with self, others and the environment. There are health benefits of being more physically active, better mental health as well as better eyesight (research to support all these can be found :

    https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/[…]/ )

    They develop deep learning and a wealth of skills in addition to the learning of facts and figures.

    Approximately 75% of school estates are outdoor spaces, these can be adapted to include growing areas in addition to learning spaces for ALL curriculum areas. There is local greenspace within 500m of every school in Scotland so with very little resourcing pupils can be accessing and utilising these spaces to learn. Learning for Sustainability and a greater understanding and working knowledge of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is easily taught when in the outdoor environment, links to our impact on the world around us is embedded in the very essence of being outside.

    The research, policy and support for Outdoor Learning is available, there are many great partners SNH, Field Studies Council, LtL, local authorities and networks SAPOE, NNOL, ENFOR who can assist in making OL a real solution to returning pupils and teachers to schools. The Curriculum Outdoors Attainment Challenge funded by Scottish Attainment Challenge has been in place for four years in East Ayrshire, it teaches curriculum outcomes and experiences outdoors, all day, every day.


  • Posted by GMPotts May 11, 2020 at 21:51

    Scotland has a national network of outdoor learning practitioners. Our Countryside Rangers work in many urban and rural locations all across Scotland. In a 2017 survey, 68,578 learners from Nursery age to undergraduate, engaged with Countryside Rangers supporting the Curriculum for Excellence statement that "all children are entitled to outdoor learning experiences". Our Country, Regional and National Parks are geared up to support educational visits - not just environmental education- any and all topics can be covered by arrangement. Countryside Rangers are a national resource for all learners and teachers and I would recommend that due Government priority is attached to developing and enhancing this service for the benefit of the current and future generations of outdoor learners.
    I note that Denmark copied Scotland's Ranger Service model but theirs is fully funded by the Danish Government.
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