Outdoor Learning in the Early Years

The following link is to a great resource book for anybody working in an early years setting who wants to develop their outdoor learning opportunities. Easy to read but detailed with lots of easily applied ideas.
“the best kept classroom and the richest
cupboard are roofed only by the sky”
Margaret McMillan (c1925)
Nursery Schools and the Pre-school Child NSA Publication


Builiding curriculum outside in

Some great new resources on the Learning and Teaching Scotland website. The first one is a comprehensive and practical guide for using the outdoors to achieve educational objectives. It makes the argument that forest school leaders have been making for years now and seeks to place Scotland at the centre of a developing recognition of the importance of nature and the outdoor environment to learners.


The second is a shorter review of how outdoor learning can be developed strategically to enhance and deliver curriculum objectives

Outdoor learning is an integral part of good practice within learning and teaching. Schools need to take a strategic approach to developing outdoor learning. Building your Curriculum is a collaborative and participative process ………..


This document published in the last week is very timely. The discussion at a conference celebrating forest school development in East Lothian held on the 28th October stressed the need for a more strategic approach to the development of outdoor learning. The document makes some clear suggestion about how this could be done both at a regional and school / nursery level. The following are described in more detail in the document – but they form the basis of a comprehensive acion plan.

  1. Where are you now? (audit)
  2. Use How Good is Our School 3 to audit how effectively outdoor learning is embedded into all aspects of school life
  3. Integrate outdoor learning into the school improvement plan
  4. Communicate with and consult parents and carers about improving learning and teaching through outdoor learning
  5. Include reference to outdoor learning when reviewing a school policy
  6. Identify children with additional support needs who could benefit from more time outside
  7. Plan outdoor activities together (practitioner sharing)
  8. Encourage practitioners to support each other
  9. Share outdoor successes
  10. Create opportunities to access continuing professional development about outdoor learning
  11. Make outdoor learning a focus of classroom visits
  12. Involve partner organisations to help enhance the quality of experiences offered outdoors
  13. Get to know your local environment and use it
  14. Develop the habit of going outside regularly and frequently
  15. Enthuse the children and young people about being outside.
  16. Take a broad view of outdoor learning experiences offered across the stages, including the transition points
  17. Compile generic and specific risk – benefit assessments (RBA) for outdoor learning which takes place within the outdoor space and for local or day trips
  18. Organise the resources needed for outdoor work
  19. Develop your school grounds year on year
  20. Ensure learners have appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear
  21. Consider intervals and how to facilitate free play outside




TeachMeet and the Outdoors

On the evening of Friday 27th May and all day Saturday 28th May, a TeachMeet is being organised in West Lothian. Please visit the wiki for more information about the event and its location http://teachmeet.pbworks.com/w/page/36841398/TMBeyond  

Hadn’t heard about ‘Teachmeets’ (which is a Scottish invention) until Juliet Robertson the indefatigable campaigner for outdoor learning emailed the  information below and I took a look at Iain’s blog. Having spent the last week working in woodland – the campfire philosophy caught my attention.  ‘TeachMeet’ is for teachers / educators but perhaps its an idea that can work for other professional groups as well. I don’t know about you but the  idea of sharing between practitioners in more relaxed format than a conference or workshop format has an appeal.

The main person behind this ‘Teachmeet’ is Iain Hallahan, a teacher at an ASN school. He explains his reasons for setting an outdoor learning TeachMeet in his blog http://h-blog.me.uk/?p=184 

What is TeachMeet? Learn something new, be amazed, amused and enthused. This is an informal gathering of those curious about teaching and learning. Anyone can share great ideas they’ve trialled in their classrooms, ask important questions or simply sign up to take part in learning conversations. Education professionals from all sectors are welcome to take part. The main part of TeachMeet is hearing stories about learning, from teachers. This is not an event to present about a product or theory – this is a chance for teachers from all types of establishments to hear ideas from each other. Real narratives of practice that make a difference. It is about being engaged and inspired by our immediate colleagues and a whole bucket load of networking to boot! Here is a video from BrainPop about Teachmeet (be warned, it’s a techy cartoon). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4suB51XIiM&feature=player_embedded The main part of TeachMeet Beyond is the campfire philosophy – each of us hearing stories about learning from the other participants. This is not an event to present about a product or theory – this is a chance for teachers from all types of establishments to hear ideas from each other about how to take learning and teaching BEYOND the classroom . Due to the theme of this TeachMeet and the nature of some of the activities, a number of the traditional TeachMeet structures will need to be altered, but the core values remain the same.