Thousands of students benefit from outdoor learning

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March 23, 2022

Over 6,000 young people from some of Scotland’s most deprived areas have benefited from a project to encourage outdoor learning.

The Learning in Local Greenspace project has helped 115 schools from 12 local authorities to use nearby green spaces, such as parks and woodlands, for outdoor learning.

Led by NatureScot, this collaborative project has worked with more than 20 partner organizations to integrate outdoor learning into schools, with the participation of more than 500 teachers.

Outdoor learning has been shown to improve student health and well-being and can also positively impact behavior and engagement, which in turn leads to better outcomes.

An evaluation report found that as a result of the project, the percentage of teachers taking lessons outside in their local green space has steadily increased from 28% to 49%, while teachers’ confidence in doing so increased from 54% to 85%.

As a result of the project, more than a third (37%) felt that their pupils had a good connection with nature, compared to just 19% previously. The percentage of teachers who rated their students’ engagement in outdoor learning as good or excellent also increased, from 56% to 79%.

Sue Munro of NatureScot said: “Nature is the best classroom of all, and regularly immersing young people in it has enormous benefits, both for physical and mental health and for academic engagement and achievement.

“We are delighted that despite the challenge of Covid 19, this project has been successful in encouraging outdoor learning in schools across Scotland, particularly in some of our most deprived areas.

“Connecting more young people to nature from an early age can also help us tackle the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change, ensuring that the next generation grows up to value and protect it. “

Carol Guthrie, a teacher at Linnvale Primary School in West Dunbartonshire, said: ‘This project has completely changed where we do our outdoor learning now, we have continued to explore the area and now use it regularly at all stages of the school.

“My confidence in regularly taking the kids out and helping my colleagues out too has grown as a result and the kids really enjoy seeing the variety of wildlife that is out there, as well as exploring and enjoying simple pleasures such as searching tadpoles, sample brambles or wade through puddles!

Carol McAuley, Head of St Paul’s Primary School in South Lanarkshire, said: ‘It has been simply inspiring to be part of the Learning in Local Greenspace project and I am truly indebted to their investment in primary and nursery school. of St Paul, the staff, young people and families of Whitehill.

“The initial cohort of children had very limited experiences of being outdoors, let alone the forest, despite being on our backdoor. The children had a range of needs, but it was clear after the first experiences they began to develop self-efficacy, confidence, communication skills and the ability to start working together.

“This change in ‘the way we do things’ was built in when the first Covid lockdown started and so many families visited the woods during this stressful and worrying time. Many families sent us photos or shared what they had been up to in the woods, and I’m sure it helped to “save and support” during these uncertain months.

The project has also developed a range of free outdoor learning resources that are accessible to everyone through the Learning in Local Green Spaces project web pages.

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