Primary School late summer paddlesport

Here at East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service we are fortuitous to have some wonderful associate staff who often get the opportunity to deliver to our great pupils across East Lothian. Ed has written about 3 recent days he has enjoyed on the water.

These days were run as Adventure Award Days. There are unlimited numbers of these days to all schools across East Lothian.


Mon 29th Sept, Canoeing Adventure, Haddington River Tyne, Yester PS

With the weather forecast looking like it would be very much in our favor I packed up the canoes and equipment I would need and went to meet the group. Upon arrival and meeting I knew that these young people were going to be enjoying themselves and that they would be brilliant at the session. They were fun, engaging and enthusiastic (some were even a bit keen to get very wet also).

Before everything we began with identifying three things that we would try and do during the session. This was going to be how we would decide if the session had been a success or not.

1. We were going to stay safe! This meant that we would have to listen really carefully and follow all the instructions. Being responsible for our own actions would be really important with this.
2. We were going to try and have an increased awareness of the environment that we were in.
3. To have fun. This was really important as we need to enjoy not only the activity we were taking art in but also the environment we were using (e.g the river)

The group were fantastic and we had a really enjoyable time exploring the river. I felt that the group managed to achieve each of the goals we outlined at the start. I was particularly impressed with the effort that they applied to moving the equipment around (the canoes). This is not an easy task and it has been known for participants to not really engage with this side of the session. Not with this team though.

We got on the water and set off on our trip. We went quite high up the river until it became too shallow to continue. We saw lots of wildlife and identified different reasons why the river is the shape it is.

Once we had figured out how to prevent the canoes from going in circles we were able to really move quick over the water. The group found that canoeing is not about the individual but working with your partner if you want the boat to go in the right direction.

All in all I have to say that I was very impressed with every participant who attended the sessions. Hopefully this will have sparked a bit more of an understanding of the environment and the fun that can take place in it.

Tue 30th Sept, Canoeing / Kayaking, Musselburgh Lagoons, Prestonpans PS

Turning up at the Musselburgh Lagoons it was clear that this wasn’t going to be the easiest day to do some canoeing and kayaking. There was a strong wind blowing over the lagoon and when you are sat in a boat on top of the flat water you make quite a large target to be blown away from where you need to go.

This was a day when developing resilience was going to be paramount. It was not the best day to learn the basics of paddlesport. Nonetheless the group gave everything they had. I was really impressed with how they undertook each of the challenges they were given. I set them all goals at the start of the day to achieve and they managed to achieve these goals. First and foremost to have fun and I think that everyone went away happy (and maybe a bit soggy).

With adverse weather conditions the group managed to follow all the instructions and to have an enjoyable time. Great work team.

Tue 7th Oct, Canoeing / Kayaking, Musselburgh Lagoons, Prestonpans PS

This was my second day working with the young persons from Prestonpans PS and they were just as enthusiastic and keen to take part as the previous group. The conditions we a little better than before however there was still a slight breeze which made it a little tricky when you needed to stay in one place. The group really dealt with this well though and they worked hard to overcome all the challenges that were set to them.

It was much the same as the session before, to develop skills so they could control their craft and play games. To listen and follow instructions, thereby staying safe and being respectful of the instructors and equipment. Finally to have fun.

They were all super keen to get into the water also which I thought was particularly brave. Though we were not far away from the summer, the water temperature had dropped considerably. I think that once in the water they maybe were reconsidering the enjoyment they would receive from jumping in. Fortunately they all came prepared for the day to be a bit wet and as such had their own change of clothes so they could get changed and warm quickly.
Brilliant effort everyone. I hope that you will all continue using the outdoor environment to enjoy yourselves in a responsible way.

If you would like the opportunity to volunteer or become an associate with ELC Outdoor Learning and enjoy your days as much as Ed then please get in touch with Liz




‘I love jumping in the river’

Education Scotland report concerning Learning for Sustainability.  Education Scotland conducted a series of visits to 20 schools and early years centres between June and September 2014 to seek their views and gather testimonies. Positive outcomes were reported in relation to:

  • Confidence and skills of learners
  • Learning experiences and motivation of learners
  • The reputation of the centres
  • Staff morale, wellbeing and motivation
  • Community partnerships and community spirit.

 The full report, which can be accessed by clicking on the image below, contains case studies from the establishments. Various sectors were included: early years establishments, primary and secondary schools and schools for learners with additional support needs (ASN).Learning for Sustainability

I have reproduced some of the great quotes below. All positive outcomes that we at the Outdoor Learning Service work closely with schools to achieve.

‘Instead of being stuck inside and being given a book, we get to actually do it and build dens. We do maths outside and all that good stuff. Other schools should give it a chance – other kids will want more maths. They’ll like coming to school more.’

‘Learning outdoors leads to pupils taking better responsibility for themselves and others.’ Headteacher

‘Outdoor learning adds more variety, it allows you to do bigger and messier things. It means learning can be noisier too.’

‘It’s more fun and a different way of learning. Using outdoor learning has helped reinvigorate my practice.’ Teacher

 ‘Learners are in involved in developing their own risk assessments for outside activities and areas. They are much more aware of how to keep themselves safe.’

 ‘I have noticed a great difference in my child, he is more settled and he comes home tired as he has been actively learning outdoors and he has been properly engaged.’ Parent

 ‘You can actually see what the teachers are talking about and you look at things differently when you learn outside of the classroom. It’s a different kind of learning – it’s more fun.’ Learner

‘Even though we live in an area with lots of nature, not all parents take their children out so it is great for children to experience jumping in the river or climbing over hills.’

‘The children will tell you more about outdoor learning than anything else.’

‘We have seen understanding of maths concepts increase through practical work outdoors and their understanding of the practical applications of mathematics and science in particular.’

‘All kids learn better outdoors.’

‘Staff are all on board with taking learning outdoors and are aware of the positive impact of taking learning outdoors. Staff do this with children year on year and they do so with such enthusiasm.’

 ‘I love jumping in the river.’



SUPer Summer

With a summer of SUP paddling now behind us it is time to reflect on the achievements of the county’s SUPer paddlers. Steve SUP Orchestrated by one of the authorities finest names in SUP coaching – Steven Nelson – a summer coaching series has resulted in the following awarded through the Academy of Surfing Instructors


  • One fully qualified Level 2 Exposed Waters Instructor
  • One fully qualified Level 1 Enclosed Water Instructor
  • Eight (8) Level 1 Enclosed Water Paddler Certification following a 10 week course.

DSCN2268 The 10 week course from June to October took place on Musselburgh Lagoons along with the fantastic sunshine that East Lothian often has to endure. For many of the paddlers it was their first experience of any watersport and their progression was a joy to behold. Many are now looking to continue their SUP journey by progressing onto Level 2 and attempting to set up a weekly SUP club. Some thoughts from the paddlers:

“…amazed at how quickly – with the help of Rab – I was able to be up and paddling,”
“…looking forward to continuing with this sport and would be delighted to be able to go further and become an SUP instructor myself”
“…originally thought that this activity would just be for me – but now looking into how to embed SUP into my work with young people within the council”

The two coaches who assisted Steve were gaining their requisite hours within an approved SUP school. The knowledge that was shared by the three coaches gave all participants a chance to experience a range of coaching styles and teaching techniques.

P1030779In some beautiful October sunshine all the paddlers took their skills and used them in a guided circumnavigation of the island of Fidra off the beautiful East Lothian coastline.

For information on next summer’s SUP courses – please get in touch with Martyn at Outdoor Learning –


Unlocking Potential

It was great to witness the enthusiasm that is present in probationary teachers across East Lothian for teaching outside of the classroom.

As part of this years probationer programme all teaching staff new to East Lothian were invited to an afternoon session at the Outdoor Learning Base – Musselburgh. The title of the afternoon was ‘Unlocking the Potential of Outdoor Learning’. The outline presentation is available below by clicking on the image.

Unlocking the Potential

The afternoon consisted of short discussion sessions interspersed by a series of simple outdoor learning activities.

All teachers were surprised to be made aware of the alternative Experiences and Outcomes documents hosted on Education Scotland. The symbols of trees and buildings next to every E and O. It is difficult to find an Experience and Outcome which has only a building next to it!

Curriculum guides for Outdoor Learning

Looking forward to hearing about more innovative learning taking place beyond the classroom across East Lothian. Thanks to all staff for a great and enthusing afternoon.

“…excited to apply what I have learned…”
“Great course …”
“Excellent input.”
“…spells outdoor were excellent…kept us all engaged”

NICAS for St.Martin’s Primary Pupils


A select group of P5’s from St.Martin’s Primary School have just completed an 8 week climbing course at the Tranent Wall right next to their school. National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme – more information in the video below

climbing opportunities put on by EnjoyLeisure 

We look forward to welcoming another group of successful learners from St. Martin’s for another eight week course beginning in the New Year.