Curriculum Outdoors Attainment Challenge (COACh)

The COACh programme was developed by our team to support the Scottish Attainment Challenge within East Ayrshire schools.

COACh is an outdoor learning programme which aims to enhance teaching and learning in Literacy,  Numeracy and HWB  through outdoor learning in a variety of place contexts.

COACh End of Year Report 2021-22

COACh is in its seventh year of delivery.  In that time, the programme has been modified and developed to meet the changing needs of East Ayrshire schools.

The key elements remain:

Building staff capacity

CPD session is delivered to the whole school staff team to inform a coherent approach to engaging in outdoor learning in the school grounds, local green space and the wider community. Team teaching takes place over the academic year with 3 classes at Early, First and Second Levels allowed modelling and coaching to encourage staff to embed the learning. This is then further shared with working groups in collegiate time.

Partnerships and Wider Achievement

Partnerships are established with national organisations, to enable the pupils to gain wider achievements through the Wild Challenge, Heritage Heroes and John Muir Award. Local partnerships are also encouraged to ensure that schools get the most from their local greenspaces; East Ayrshire Woodlands, Coalfield Environment Initiative, Royal Highland Education Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Buglife

Parental Engagement

Presentations are given to Parent Councils to share the programme aims, parents’ role and opportunities for supporting learning. Parent leaflets are distributed with practical ideas, safety and clothing considerations which outlined the impact this could have on their child’s learning. We support schools to run parent and pupil sessions this may look different in each establishment with a wide range of opportunities from Family Orienteering afterschool clubs, Shared Learning sessions in the school day or as a one off weekend half day den building session in a local greenspace.


There are two elements of research:

  • The programme is based on a review of literature on leadership to build capacity of practitioners and also on the benefits of outdoor learning. In addition to this, we engage with  organisations and universities to ensure that we have the most up to date evidence which recognises the value of learning in nature and outdoors.
  • Action research has been undertaken also undertaken with COACh schools to measure the impact on performance of children’s Literacy and Numeracy.


All schools received practical resources including hand lenses, trundle wheels, ghillie kettles and books mapped to curriculum outcomes and levels. School are guided to recognise the learning potential within school grounds, greenspace and the community. Using the Scottish Natural Heritage mapping tool, establishments were given practical advice to access local woodland which could be adopted for regular use.

Support Beyond Initial COACh Input

Beyond the initial year of input,  COACh work with schools on further CLPL projects tailored to the specific needs of a school community. Together, COACh and school teams  design CLPL programmes which further develop and embed outdoor learning pedagogy.

For East Ayrshire schools, COACh have developed an Outdoor Learning Audit and Self Evaluation toolkit.   The toolkit is used alongside the School Improvement Plan and helps to identify opportunities and the next steps necessary to ensure highly effective practice and good quality education for all learners.

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