Whole School

This is category is being slowly created to help those who have a whole school remit for learning outdoors and those who are considering the bigger or wider picture around learning outside.

I’ve also included the blog post which raise some of the issues around enabling children to learn and play outdoors.

Schools, nurseries and other organisations doing interesting or sector-leading work

This section carries a health warning. Schools and early years settings change. So the good practice is current when the blog post was written. However good ideas are often timeless…

Congratulations Middleton Park

Middleton Park Primary School is based in Aberdeen and in its excellent March 2016 inspection was noted for using outdoor learning specifically to raise attainment.

A whole school approach to outdoor learning

A report from St Geradine’s in Lossiemouth about how they kickstarted outdoor learning.

Free play adventures at Broxburn OOSC

To infinity and beyond. Broxburn Family Centre’s fantastic holiday club show’s that the sky’s not the limit when it comes to quality, adventurous outdoor play provision.

Outdoor play at Cowgate Under 5’s Centre

Consistently excellent practice over many years. A credit to the staff, children and families who belong to this remarkable early years centre.

Scottish curriculum matters

Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning

A summary of the main points of this key Scottish document.

Building the curriculum outside and in: Part 1

Considering outdoor learning and play within the context of schools values.

Building the curriculum outside and in: Part 2

What’s special about the outdoors? Some reasons why learning outside beats being inside, any day.

Teach-IT outdoors evaluated

A digital technology resource that I co-wrote gets an external evaluation (NB this resource is pre-iPad)

Lessons in life principles from the Okanagan People

Getting It Right for Every Child.

Relationships are all there are

Reflecting on the relationships that build the context of learning outdoors. Thank you Sir Patrick Geddes.

Is outdoor learning in Scotland blossoming?

Useful summary by Rob Bushby of the current state of outdoor learning.

Changing hearts and minds

We are the influencers

Struggling to get outdoor learning and play happening in your setting. Some useful advice from research into how seemingly impossible changes happen.

Dangerous ideas in education

When outdoor learning and play feels like a dangerous idea in your school.

Trouble with lichen

Is outdoor learning as boring as lichen?

10 reasons why teachers love learning outside

What a positive promotion of outdoor learning on Valentine’s Day. Why do your staff like learning outside?

To live is to risk

Wonderful quote. Worth sharing.

Risky business

Comparing the risk aversion in education to that in other sectors.

I’m a parent – let my child OUTSIDE at school

What to try when your child’s school haven’t got going with outdoor learning and play.

Keeping parents informed about outdoor learning

A lovely example of one of Inverallochy’s many outdoor newsletters that parents receive.

Back to school? Stay outside

Why getting outside with your class after the summer holidays is best done as soon as possible.

100 Maths Sessions Outside

Any teacher can teach outside! Andrea Stevenson talks about her experiences of getting out there and teaching maths to all ages outdoors with no prior experience.

Tricky issues – practical advice

Health and safety: have you heard the latest…

Squashing some of the myths which go flying around

When children need the toilet outside

Practical advice and tips

Hand hygiene outdoors

Don’t wash your hands of this subject.

Ode to toilet roll tubes

Myth-busting about cardboard cylinders.

The good, the bad and the fungi

A focus on fungus, mushroom and toadstools and why you needn’t worry if a child touches one.

Do you have a poisonous plant in your school grounds?

The answer is most probably “Yes” and that can be a good thing!

Play and playtimes

Tyres in school grounds

Practical advice about using tyres for play and gardening in schools.

Sandpits outside – challenging the myths and the misconceptions

Every school and nursery needs an outdoor sandpit – and the bigger the better!

Are loose parts toys?

Clarification about safety standards and what children play with outside.

10 ideas if you can’t leave resources outside

How to offer outdoor play from scratch every day.

Is free play a legitimate learning experience?

Oh no! Children are playing outside during class time.

Traversing walls in schools: 6 tips for their development, design and use

The Barry Island typographic traversing wall created by Gordon Young provides inspiration for playground climbing features

Simon Nicholson and the Theory of Loose Parts – 1 Million Thanks

A tribute post to Simon Nicholson to celebrate his paper than inspired future generations of play workers, educators and outdoor practitioners.

Weather and clothing

Indoor or wet breaks – a dangerous idea?

Raising the matter of why some primary schools keep children inside during inclement weather when nursery and secondary-aged children have the right to choose?

Bad weather, clothes, activities and parents

Letting children feel the cold. Should educators and parents let children suffer?

Drying and managing wet clothes

No need to upset the cleaning and janitorial staff.

Try before you buy

Outdoor clothing boxes for schools and nurseries to borrow in NE Scotland.

The outdoor clothing box is being trialled

Creative STAR has clothing boxes that schools and nurseries can borrow for a term at a time to find out what children think and learn about the issues around clothing. After all, if the children have to wear the clothing, it makes sense to ensure they have a say.

Outdoor clothing for adults – will we ever learn?

It’s not only children who need to be appropriately dressed for being outside.

Slips, slugs, fun and freedom

How wearing outdoor clothing made this happen.

Persil white, Persil bright

Children will get muddy outdoors. Thank goodness they are 100% washable.

Conversational pieces to get you thinking about some of the issues

The classroom is too small

When comparing zoo space for chimps and space for children in schools… the chimps get a better deal.

The Pansy Project

Tackling homophobic abuse is a must for every school. This beautiful guerrilla gardening art project is worth finding out about.

Building confidence on a concrete slope

Useful piece to help staff reflect upon the value letting children do things for themselves.

A rope trail for everyone

A rope trail that made staff re-think their provision for one child.

Are we digital natives from a different era?

Looking back at our addiction to screens over the decades.

Foraging for fruit. A way to love gardening

Reasons to plant fruit and veg that children want to help themselves to.

Being naughty

Uh oh! How far is too far and when should you step in and intervene?

This place still rocks

Timeless play on a boulder outcrop.

Beware! Extreme signage

What are the signs and notices in your school telling your children about learning and playing outside?

Thinking outside the box

When will schools start encouraging children to bring litterless lunches to school?

Living in a box

Feeling boxed up? Get the X-box D-tox outside!

A lamb get slaughtered and the HT gets slated

To die or not to die? An issue that remains live.

A controversial week

We are constantly having to make split decisions as educators. Does this get any easier working outside?


Reigning children in, to get them out.

Bringing beavers back to Scotland

It’s an educational topic.

Progression in using places outdoors

Where there’s no sense of place, there no feeling for place.

Get ’em outside

Thoughts from 2008. Has much changed?

Edupic11: A conversation about Scottish Education

A reflective photo album of why outdoor learning is a key part of the future of Scottish education.

Interruptions – a hindrance or help to learning?

How being outside has helped me cope with interruptions to lessons.

The power of number 11

The symbolism of number 11 can be connected to the power of learning outdoors.

Every school needs a beach

Why holidays matter too.

School’s out

A poem for my vision for 2050

Tyres in School Grounds

1 October 2017

Updated post – new research, painting, etc.

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Sandpits Outside – Challenging Myths and Misconceptions

10 August 2017

Examining some of the issues of sand and sandpits.

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Fear Less: Hope More

1 May 2017

Moving mindsets.

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Environmental Services – Support for Schools

24 April 2017
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Local council support

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Fairies – A Risk Benefit Assessment

1 April 2017
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Essential for anyone with a fairy garden

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In the beginning… starting from scratch to develop your outdoor space

18 March 2017
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Changing hearts, minds and practice

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10 Outdoor Tips for Starting Teaching

1 August 2016
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What you need when starting out-side

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Loose Parts Play Guide – Can You Assist?

27 July 2016
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Quotes, advice & comments needed

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An Urban Mapping Art Project

25 June 2016
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Beach ball art work

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Accreditations, Award Schemes and Outdoor Learning

14 April 2016
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Is your school involved?

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Congratulations Middleton Park Primary School

15 March 2016
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Outdoor learning = attainment & enrichment

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Sobel’s Nature Design Principles in Action

25 January 2016
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Time to observe your children at play

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Another Place in 2016

2 January 2016
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Being uprooted brings its challenges

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The Classroom is Too Small

5 December 2015

Who’s got the better deal. Chimps or children?

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Rewilding – Why the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

10 October 2015
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Do you know what rewilding means?

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A Whole School Approach to Outdoor Learning

6 September 2015
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A useful report from St Geradine School

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Is Outdoor Learning in Scotland Blossoming?

9 June 2015

Rob Bushby is UK Manager of the John Muir Award – the John Muir Trust’s environmental award scheme. In this detailed guest blog post, he takes in the view of the strategic landscape of Outdoor Learning in Scotland.  How about this for a statement of intent in an education system? Every learner is entitled to experience […]

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Blogging and The Trap of Assumptions

29 December 2014
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Recently I listened to Jonathan Freedland’s Radio 4 programme, The Long View, where the subject of Victorian diaries and social media was being discussed. It was comparing the boom in the keeping of personal diaries in the Victorian Era to our use of social media today. There was a good mix of opinions which got me thinking about […]

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Surfers Against Sewage: Autumn Beach Clean

4 October 2014
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Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) is “an environmental charity protecting the UK’s oceans, waves and beaches for all to enjoy safely and sustainably via community action, campaigning, volunteering, conservation, education and scientific research.” From 17-19 October, this organisation is asking for your help. If you live near a beach or use a beach, you can get involved in […]

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When Children Need the Toilet Outdoors

19 July 2014
The Star

Outdoor toilets – what to do…

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The Pansy Project

18 May 2014
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There is something very poignant about seeing a single flower, such as the image of a red poppy at Flander’s Field and knowing its role in Remembrance Sunday and its story associated with The Great War. Over the years, flowers have become associated with different causes. There is the Snowdrop Appeal which fundraises for units to […]

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Health and Safety: Have you heard the latest…?

18 March 2014
HSE Myths

“Oh no, they cannot be serious!”

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Building Confidence on a Concrete Slope

11 January 2014
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It’s the little things which matter

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An Independent 2014?

2 January 2014
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Time to vote on it.

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Are Loose Parts Toys?

19 December 2013
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Are toys all that children want for Xmas?

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Are We Digital Natives from a Different Era?

23 October 2013
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Different age, same issues and concerns

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Drying and Managing Wet Clothes

17 October 2013
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Space saving solutions

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Foraging for Fruit – A Way to Love Gardening

25 July 2013
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Summer time… and the living is easy

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Free Play Adventures at Broxburn OOSC

16 April 2013

This was my introduction to Broxburn Family Centre’s Out of School Care.

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10 Ideas if You Can’t Leave Resources Outside

16 March 2013

Creative, solution-focused thinking for when it comes to outdoor play provision.

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Is Free Play a Legitimate Learning Experience?

5 March 2013
Free Play

What do you think about the Engage for Education blog post?

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Keeping Parents Informed About Outdoor Learning

2 March 2013
Operation Eco Allochy

How do you communicate with parents about your outdoor learning initiatives?

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10 Reasons Why Teachers Like Learning Outdoors in Scotland

16 February 2013

What is your experience of learning outdoors?

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Stewardship of a Woodland

20 January 2013

Recently I was undertaking a professional site visit on behalf of Grounds for Learning to Muirtown Primary School in Inverness. As part of the visit, I was asked to provide advice about a patch of woodland, the school adopted seven years ago. It is situated just over a mile from the school within the larger Dunain […]

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