Is it Learning Outdoors or Outdoor Learning?

In these new challenging COVID times the Outdoor Learning Service teachers have changed the way we work and we now spend most of our time teaching curriculum topics outdoors in school grounds.  We’ve been promoting this as our Outdoor Teacher in Residence Programme.

This way of working allows us to teach pupils in a COVID ‘safer’  teaching space, and helps class teachers see that learning outdoors does not need to be as hard,  scary or unpleasant as they may think!

At the end of each teaching block we get the class teachers we’ve worked with for their feedback,  including; what’s worked well, what types of pupils have benefitted the most and whether the experience has encouraged them to get out more with their class.

The following response from a teacher in one of my recent schools I think says a lot …

Q.  Having participated in this block of outdoor teaching do you think you are now more or less likely to use the outdoors as a learning space (or just the same!).  Please give an explanation of why this is. *

A. I think I am more likely to use the outdoors as an outdoor classroom. Perhaps in the past I have felt I needed to be using the outdoors for outdoor learning rather than just using the space available as a learning space. These sessions have given me more confidence to do this.

Absolutely brilliant, and just what we are hoping this different way of working would achieve.  As outdoor educators I think we too often miss stressing the obvious because we’re so close to it.

Online activities for young navigators

Stuck inside, but still want to progress your navigation training, take a look here:

  • The excellent Digimap for Schools have provided a huge amount of great resources, see here for mapping ones. If you work in East Lothian contact me directly and I can give you the  login details – all scales of UK wide mapping and imagery online and to print out for FREE for teaching Outdoor Learning in ELC.
  • Ordnance Survey have lots of great stuff in their Get Outside programme – which I’m sure can be adapted for the indoors/garden. For younger kids also see their MapZone
  • Pure Outdoors have a Free Online Course – (though note I have NOT used this so will welcome feedback)
  • The NNAS’s  Outdoor Discover Award also has a set of star awards with suggested activities to do with young people.

Leave a comment below to let others know how you got on, what worked, what didn’t – and other other suggested references?



Litter Pick Activity – with mapping and curriculum links

Why not get out there, get some fresh air – clean the place up …

Here’s a great resource for linking to the curricular outcomes … Litter pick ideas. If you find any other resources, or want to share ideas – please leave a comment on this post!

To see where other’s have been picking, or to share your pick by enter it on Google Maps  (NOTE – if you don’t have editor privileges on the map please leave a comment with your email on this post and I’ll add you as a map editor)

You can access our all our e-learning activities by clicking here


ELC Outdoor Learning online

During the time of school closure and looking towards a Blended Learning approach for schools the Outdoor Learning Service will be signposting and providing practical Outdoor Learning resources for digital learning and teaching.

You can access our e-learning activities here.

Follow the link through the ‘Outdoor Learning Online Resources’ document, in the ‘ELC Distance Learning Resources’, in the shared staff google drive.  This will take you to some of the best resource sheets available for Outdoor Learning lessons.


Winter adventure residential weekends in the Cairngorms

We are back at the fine facilities of Badaguish in the Cairngorms National Park and offering a choice of 2 winter weekends adventures for secondary pupils across East Lothian schools.

Dates … This year’s dates are 28th Feb – 1st Mar (S2/3) and 13th – 15th Mar (s5/6). To book go here , and select the ‘For Pupils’ tab.

Who can attend …We run two weekends one for S3/4 and another for S5/6. Max group size is 12 per trip. We are after pupils, plus any teachers or volunteers to assist and gain experience.

Why attend … The Scottish winter mountains can be a challenging environment.  They are an excellent place to help you gain skills and confidence. We will help you experience some amazing conditions and hopefully learn some new winter skills – such as using an ice-axe and crampons, or for those that can already ski, maybe some touring off-piste on skis.  And as at least two of us teach Geography there’ll be plenty of glacial features and processes explored and discussed.

Logistics … we will meet after school on the first day of each trip from the Outdoor Learning Service in Musselburgh, returning on the evening of the last day.

Activities will be dependent on the conditions, they will include …
Planning your winter day  – weather forecast, snow-pack, route-choice, what to take? Winter navigation,  technical skills – use of winter boots, ice-axe, crampons Snow craft – building emergency shelters, snow holes Avalanche awareness and emergency response. Winter hill-walking.  Snowshoeing – dependent on conditions. Ski-touring – very dependent on participants prior experience and conditions.  We can discuss when you arrive

What’s included …
Self-catering accommodation in 4, 6 or 8 bed dorms
Instruction and coaching from ELC OLS staff
All technical and safety equipment, including shell clothing and winter boots.

What to bring … See here for a kit-list Linen and bedding is provided but you need so bring a towel! Enthusiasm and a smile

Cost  … £95 fully inclusive of equipment, food, instruction and transport

Interested … Book and pay online by going here, , and selecting the ‘For Pupils‘ tab.  We will then email out joining instructions directly to all participants.