“We’re not saying goodbye to our classrooms, we’re opening them up.”
This is the blog post I’ve been wanting to write for months. Earlier this year Creative STAR gained the contract to write an outdoor learning resource pack on behalf of Learning Teaching Scotland (now Education Scotland).
To quote the introduction:
“The purpose of this resource is to provide practical, accessible and straightforward advice for teachers and practitioners to engage children and young people with learning outdoors. It is part of achieving a wider objective of supporting the implementation of the guidance document Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning.
The resource introduces practitioners who are not familiar with outdoor learning to exploring ways of taking children outside. It provides a route into continuing professional development and suggestions for embedding outdoor learning as a whole school approach. It serves to illustrate the potential of outdoor learning as an effective approach to learning and teaching within the context of Curriculum for Excellence.”
It’s a pretty sizeable piece of work with links to many different aspects of education. I’m particularly pleased because the resource demonstrates how learning and play outside can make a positive difference to so many aspects of children’s lives and add depth and value to their experience of education. It flags up the benefits of free play, especially in natural places and the need for children to experience risk, challenge and adventure. Please don’t sanitise school experiences any longer!
If you are not based in Scotland, there’s still lots of useful information. Jump to the back of the document to have a look at the training activities that are designed to help adults understand the benefits of outdoor learning and play. This includes building towers with stones and lego, drinking tea and eating chocolate!
The second part of the resource is much shorter. It’s called Building your Curriculum: Outside and In. It’s created to help schools and centres think about where they are in terms of embedding outdoor learning and where they need to be. On the second page there’s a far-reaching illustration of this which clearly demonstrates it takes a whole school community to raise a child…!
It was not a lone job. Owing to the tight timescales, a team was put together to write different parts of the document. This is a chance for me to publicly thank everyone involved including:
- Daniel Raven-Ellison – one of the founder members of the Geography Collective and co-author of the Mission:Explore series of books.
- Lynnette Borradaile – environmental education consultant
- Jill O’Reilly – a part time primary school teacher and outdoor learning consultant
- Mark Baker – former Outdoor Learning Development Officer with Learning and Teaching Scotland. He’s now in the middle of undertaking a PhD.
- Ollie Bray – who write a popular blog about digital learning and technologies. He’s a secondary DHT on secondment to Education Scotland
- Sandra from Canada – a principal teacher of science, who I’ve known and kept in touch with since an exchange-visit to Canada many years ago
- Kirsty Robertson – the music teacher who runs Pandemic, the youth steel band at Bucksburn Academy in Aberdeen
- Margaret Hearne – a retired drama teacher who does all sorts of creative activities within North East Scotland
- Grounds for Learning – the Scottish schools grounds charity in particular Alastair Seaman and Caroline Standring
Many thanks are also extended to the many individuals who took the time to read parts of the draft, comment and give their feedback. The timescales were extremely tight. Finally thanks too, to the LTS and Education Scotland staff who did the editing, layout, photos etc. In particular the Outdoor Learning Development Officers who worked behind the scenes enabling these documents to be published.