Outdoor learning, within Learning for Sustainability, is already embedded in CfE, in our GTCS standards and school inspections. Learning in the outdoors can make significant contributions to literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.
In order to enhance the outdoor aspect of the curriculum and comply with government guidelines there are a number of ways Outdoor Learning can support education recovery and build a richer curriculum beyond COVID-19 within the refreshed CfE narrative.
Below you will find links to a host of guidance and support resources, including a growing bank of practical lessons for teaching the CfE outdoors.
- The Importance of the Outdoors as an approach to learning
- Scottish Government Guidance – inc. Outdoor Learning
- Education Scotland Guidance – Outdoor Learning
- National Outdoor Guidance
- East Lothian Council Guidance – relevant to Outdoor Learning
- Advice/Support from ELC Outdoor Learning Service
- Networks for Outdoor Learning
- Staff Training / CLPL – Outdoor Learning
- Awards – Specific to Outdoor Learning
- Resources to Purchase & School Grounds Advice
- Teaching Resources – Outdoor Learning Lessons
- Case Studies & Practitioner Enquiry – Outdoor Learning
The Importance of the Outdoors as an approach to learning
Entitlement – Education Scotland’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning’ set out a vision for all schools and educational settings to provide frequent and progressive outdoor learning opportunities which are clearly part of the curriculum. These opportunities need to be regular and sustainable.
Safety – The outdoor learning space naturally facilitates room for physical distancing of both staff and pupils, reducing airborne and surface transmission risk of infection. A move from a’classroom‘ to a ‘learning space’ model for CfE delivery, enables physical distancing alongside high quality learning and teaching both in school grounds, local spaces, and home environments.
School Estates – On average over 50% of a school estate is outdoors, in many cases these environments are not yet being maximised to their proven potential. Outdoor learning space naturally lends itself to becoming a high-quality teaching space that can be utilised or transformed relatively quickly and at reasonably low cost.
Engagement in Learning – The outdoor environment has proven benefit for learning by giving relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors, including opportunities for study in the local, natural and built environments. We know that children and young people are more likely to be engaged in learning outdoors, not only will this raise attainment, it will help them make connections experientially, therefore facilitating their development into confident and responsible citizens.
Health & Wellbeing – The benefits of active and outdoor learning in terms of education, physical and mental wellbeing, are well documented and will have a long-term positive impact on pupils, families, staff and the wider school community. We can capitalise on learners’ potential to develop as they experience new challenges.
Life-long Skills & Attitudes – The outdoor environment encourages skills such as problem solving and negotiating risk. Learning outdoors contributes to our National objective of ‘creating a more successful country’ in that it facilitates children and young people becoming:
- healthier – learning outdoors can lead to lifelong recreation;
- safer & stronger – outdoor activities can span social divisions and provide opportunities to assess and manage risk;
- greener – the outdoor environment is the ideal setting to promote understanding of global sustainability issues;
- wealthier & fairer – the outdoor environment offers opportunities for leadership, and allows children and young people to showcase a wide range of skills and abilities which are not always visible in the classroom, in turn increasing engagement and raising attainment.
Interdisciplinary Learning – With an innovative, responsive and flexible approach to learning and teaching, a significant part of the curriculum can be taught outdoors. New technologies will add further value by allowing learners to review and share their outdoor learning experiences.
Scottish Government Guidance – inc. Outdoor Learning
- Excellence and Equity During the COVID-19 Pandemic – A Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools, Early Learning and Childcare Provision in Scotland
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): re- opening schools guidance
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for continuity in learning
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): fully outdoor childcare providers guidance
- Outdoor learning during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Curriculum for Excellence in the Recovery Phase
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Phase 3: guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services
- Getting your facilities fit for sport – resources
Education Scotland Guidance – Outdoor Learning
Education Scotland’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning’ has set out a vision for all schools and educational settings to provide frequent and progressive outdoor learning opportunities which are clearly part of the curriculum. These opportunities need to be regular and sustainable.
- Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning
- CfE Refreshed Narrative
- SCOTLAND’S CURRICULUM FOR EXCELLENCE Putting learners at the heart of education – here
- The Revised Curriculum Narrative (Education Scotland) – here
- E’s & O’s Outside – National Improvement Hub Outdoor Learning
National Outdoor Guidance
‘Going Out There’ Scottish Framework for Safe Practice in Off-Site Visits – link
- Travel Health Guidance for Schools – link
- Learning For Sustainability – link
- Managing Risk in Outdoor Learning – link
- Busting Health & Safety Myths – link
- Support For Professional Development in Outdoor Learning – link
- High Quality Outdoor Learning – by English Outdoor Council – here
- Early Years – Realising the Ambition: Being Me – here
- Early Years – My World Outdoors – Care Inspectorate Guidance
- National Network for Outdoor Learning Statement
- Outdoor Learning Core Brief
- Outdoor Learning Practical Considerations
- HSE Guidance Risk & Outdoor Learning
- Fire Guidance – Outdoor & Woodland Learning Scotland – link
- Fire Guidance – SAPOE (Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education) – here
- Loose Parts Play – here
- A BLUEPRINT FOR 2020: THE EXPANSION OF EARLY LEARNING AND CHILDCARE IN SCOTLAND – here
- Space to Grow: Early learning, childcare and out of school care services: design guidance – here
East Lothian Council Guidance – relevant to Outdoor Learning
Safety – continue to provide advice about safe practice of all aspects of outdoor learning. Currently for school grounds, local area & home learning and eventually back to UK & world wide travel. All advice will be based on the SG ‘Going Out There’ framework, NGB guidelines and ELC guidance, including advice on risk assessments and ratios with adaptation to comply with current Covid guidelines.
- Safety and Good Practice in Managing Offsite learning
- TEMPLATE to edit for Site/ Group/ Activity Specific Risk Assessments – here
- All Generic Risk Assessments
- Sample Letter to Parents – here
- Sample Bikeability Letter to Parents – here
- ELC – Photo/Video Consent Form (11 yrs and younger) – here
- ELC – Photo/Video Consent Form (12 yrs and older) – here
- Parental Consent Form – here
- Equality Act and school trips, updated April 2014 – here
- Home Stay Guidance – here
- Transport Guidance – here
- ELC Employers Liability Insurance (19/20) – Certificate
- ELC Public Liability Insurance (19/20) – Letter
Advice and support from ELC Outdoor Learning Service
School Improvement Planning – advice on how to develop an outdoor progressive programme, through CfE delivery, specifically focusing onNumeracy, Literacy and Health & wellbeing.
School Ground / Local Area advice – advice on how to maximise the use of school grounds, community and local green-spaces to facilitate learning whilst physical distancing restrictions remain in place. Advice on accessing green-space within walking distance of all schools across East Lothian – including the safest routes to access these.
Delivery to classes – advice on what activities would be appropriate for a given learning intention to teach in the outdoors complementing classroom work, and the logistics of delivering high quality teaching safely and confidently. OLS teacher placement in a school for a period of c4 weeks at a time, to offer support through team-teaching, how to evidence, professional dialogue, sharing of good practice.
Additional Support Needs – help with planning and adaptation of learning activities to ensure access for ALL, inclusion and equity whilst maintaining a whole class approach.
Care-experienced / Vulnerable/ Disengaged / Challenging Young People – outdoor learning is an approach often used with these young people to re-engage them with education and or develop skills for work. East Lothian has a pool of associate outdoor instructors and supply teaching staff ready to take on projects of this kind.
The Old School House at Innerwick – is available as a supplementary learning space for indoor & outdoor learning.
When planning and presenting new ways of working remember a classroom does not need to have walls. The outdoors is an approach to learning which can be incorporated at appropriate times into every area of the curriculum. Consider using alternative terminology:
A move from ‘classroom’ to ‘learning space’
A move from ‘Outdoor Activity’ to ‘Outdoor Lesson’
A move from ‘Outdoor Learning’ to ‘Learning Outdoors’
e.g. Learning numeracy outdoors
Networks for Outdoor Learning
There is already a wide network of outdoor professionals throughout Local Authorities & Independent schools who form SAPOE (Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education), whose role is to advise, support & deliver Outdoor Learning. East Lothian is also part of the National Network of Outdoor Learning (NNOL), made up of organisations (including representatives from Government, Councils, professional bodies), schools and the third sector, who support and deliver Outdoor Learning across Scotland.
ELLO (East Lothian Learning Outdoors) is East Lothian’s networking group for communication, sharing best practice and maximising the potential for learning outdoors. If you would like to represent your school on ELLO then please email email@example.com with your details.
Staff Training / CLPL – Outdoor Learning
Online and physically-distanced ‘on the ground’ training will enhance staff competence, build confidence and encourage creativity. New and adapted modular courses are available both locally and nationally.
- ELC OLS Training Courses – open to all
- Videos (Coming soon!)
Awards – Specific to Outdoor Learning
The following awards are delivered and supported by the Outdoor Learning Service across East Lothian Council primary and secondary schools. A number of them can be used to deliver SQCF points:
Primary school awards :
- Hi5 Awards
- John Muir Award
- Junior Award Scheme for Schools
- Play on Pedals
- Bikeability Scotland
- National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme
- British Canoe Union Paddle Awards – Start and Discover
- National Navigation Award Scheme – Outdoor Discovery Award
Secondary school awards:
- Youth Achievement Awards
- Dynamic Youth Awards
- John Muir Award
- Saltire Award
- Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme
- Junior Award Scheme for Schools
- Bikeability Scotland
- National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme
- British Canoe Union Paddle Awards – Start , Discover and Explore
- Orienteering Young Leader Award
- Mountain Training Hill and Mountain Skills
- National Navigation Award Scheme – Bronze and Silver Navigator Awards
Resources to Purchase & School Grounds Advice
Following contain links to suppliers of recommended equipment and books:
Teaching Resources – Outdoor Learning Lessons
Below you’ll find links to quality teaching ideas and resources to minimise the ‘prep’ time for school staff.
- ELC Outdoor Learning Service Outdoor Learning Lesson ideas – a Google Drive full of outdoor lessons for early years, primary and secondary (Note these are only accessible to ELC education staff – you need to be logged in to your Edubuzz account to access. Please don’t request access – just ensure you are logged into your Edubuzz account and you will see it!)
- ELC Outdoor Learning Service e-Learning – all our e-learning category of blog posts on our Edubuzz website (Absolutely anyone can get here 🙂 )
Case Studies & Practitioner Enquiry – Outdoor Learning
What can be done with out of the box thinking?…