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

Significant Scottish Documents – Outdoor Learning and Play

All the documents and links, all in the one place.

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!

Should Children Wear High Visibility Vests?

No one-size-fits-all approach. Time for some reflective thinking on this emotive matter.

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

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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Being Naughty

12 January 2013

Naughty or excitement of exploring?

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Do you have a poisonous plant in your school garden?

4 August 2012
Poisonous Plants

Which are poisonous and which aren’t? Do you know?

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Indoor or Wet Breaks – A Dangerous Idea?

13 June 2012
Icy Weather

Indoors or out…weather, clothing and more.

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The Outdoor Clothing Box is Being Trialled

25 April 2012
Outdoor Clothing Box

Children’s feedback includes more than you might expect.

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We are the Influencers!

22 April 2012
The Star

With the power to change anything.

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Dangerous Ideas in Education

11 April 2012
Playing with fire

Do we need more risk in activities offered to children?

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Beware! Extreme Signage

28 March 2012

Instructions, warnings, ‘elf and safety – signs everywhere!

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BtC Outside and In: What’s special about the outdoors?

22 January 2012
The Star

The second in the series of Building your curriculum, outside and in.

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Building your Curriculum: Outside and In – Values Part 1

19 January 2012
The Star

The first in our series of Building your curriculum, outside and in.

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Try Before you Buy

4 January 2012
Outdoor Clothing

Outdoor clothing for children and practitioners.

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Thinking Outside the Box

15 December 2011
The Star

I have a drawer which makes plastic box lids disappear.

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A rope trail for everyone

15 June 2011
Rope Trails

An old climbing rope is a wonderful resource and here it was used to good effect.

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

17 February 2011
Parents Outdoor School

Ideas for parents to encourage outdoor learning in schools.

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Hand hygiene outdoors

20 January 2011
Hand Hygiene Outdoors

Removing one of the barriers to learning outdoors.

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The Good, the Bad and the Fungi

2 October 2010
Fly Agaric

It’s that time of year when fungi pop up everywhere!

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Outdoor Play at Cowgate Under 5’s Centre

21 May 2010
Cowgate Nursery

This is the entrance to the magical, yet very real, world of Cowgate Under 5’s Centre.

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A Controversial Week

4 April 2010
Tree Climbing

Last week was a controversial time. Two situations arose that really got me thinking.

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A Lamb Gets Slaughtered, the Head Teacher Gets Slated

12 February 2010
Merino Sheep

Outdoor learning has suddenly got ugly!

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Bad weather, clothes, activities and parents

10 January 2010
Winter Beach

There’s no such thing as bad weather….only the wrong clothes.

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26 September 2009
The Star

Using a walkodile may make a difference.

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Turning Passion into Achievement

17 September 2009
The Star

Is there any school in the world where parkour is taught?

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Bringing Beavers Back to Scotland

30 May 2009
The Star

Welcome home beavers – Argyll’s rewilding programme begins.

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Trouble with Lichen

5 May 2009
The Star

Make lichen the official quality indicator logo.

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This place still rocks

5 April 2009
The Star

The EU have yet to work out a way of standardising rocks and boulders.

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Ode to Toilet Roll Tubes

29 January 2009
The Star

A mission to reinstate the toilet roll in the resource box!

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Risky Business

24 December 2008
The Star

At the weekend I made a rare appearance at a social do.

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Persil White Persil Bright

8 November 2008
The Star

Clothing gets dirty outdoors. That’s a fact.

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