Go Play and Getting it Right for Play Launch

Recently I was able to attend the launch of the The Scottish Government Go Play Outcome and Evaluation Framework  and Play Scotland’s national launch of Getting it Right for Play. 

There is a lot of emphasis on outdoor play presently and on building the capacity of staff who supervise and design outdoor play experiences. The Go Play Outcomes and Evaluation Framework was developed to articulate why play is so important for children in Scotland.


Play Scotland’s Getting it Right for Play toolkit is especially helpful for local authorities looking to improve the design and provision of spaces and places for play. I have enjoyed working with schools to pilot this material and find the process of evaluating play spaces and places with children as active participants particularly helpful.

There is also a very helpful and substantial summary of research about the benefits of outdoor play which can be found on their main website in the resources section.

TESS article on Outdoor Learning in Highland

An article written for TESS highlights some of the great work going on at Park and South Lodge schools in Highand. Jean McLeish visited the schools and joined in with one of the regular Friday afternoon trips to Embo. On a Friday, both schools have been taking part in a number of outdoor activities, all part of their John Muir, JASS, Dynamic Youth & Sports Leader Award. It has been a fantastic opportunity to get staff and children together from both schools and the children have really worked hard. The staff have enjoyed themselves too!

The John Muir Award  for P7 and Junior Award Scheme Scotland for P6 will continue into the summer term, but transition activities will take over for P7. The article can be found in text at


Thanks to Lawrence Bews for sending this info.

Slainte Maps

If you are getting out and about in your local area, a fabulous resource for taking a look at Scotland’s past are Slainte Historic maps. These have opened a new window into Scotland’s past to show how the country looked in Victorian times and in the 1940s. Historic maps which show details of streets, buildings, rivers and roads are now available to search free online through a partnership between the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and Wilbourn Associates, a leading firm of chartered environmental surveyors. Another series of thematic maps of Great Britain from 1944-1960 is also being made available.

They allow visitors to the NLS website to view the same place at different times in the past and to see how things have changed over time. They can even be viewed on top of Google satellite and map images to bring everything bang up to date: see the NLS-Wilbourn Associates geo-referenced maps.

Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland, said:

‘These new maps cover all of Scotland and are very detailed with a scale of one inch to the mile. People can search for the street their grandparents lived in or see how 19th century farmland has turned into today’s suburbs.

‘We are immensely grateful for the support of Wilbourn Associates which has allowed us to scan and georeference these maps and make them available on the NLS website.’

The Scottish maps were produced in the 1890s and 1940s and the British maps are themed and include features such as administrative areas, farming, geology, iron and steel, land classification and utilisation, population, railways, rainfall, and roads.

There is also lots of useful information for getting out and about for historical inquiry and discovery at the big history project here. A brilliant resource that can be used to design creative learning experiences for Scottish Studies through outdoor learning.

Deep Blue Scotland

The Secret Life of Seals – watch again on Glow TV  http://glo.li/AfQLsf

This Glow TV event was recorded by students at Barcaldine Primary School on the west coast of Scotland to celebrate the launch of a brand new educational marine science website called Deep Blue Scotland. Pupils describe the life of seals around Scotland’s coasts and will also use the Deep Blue website to track wild seal cubs as they travel around the Scottish coast. Sign in to watch again here. (Glow log-in required.)

Discover Explore Activities in the Great Glen

Discover Explore is an initiative of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and the Heritage Alliance and part of a campaign to inspire the UK to discover local, natural, built and historic places. It is designed around a set of outdoor discovery adventures through the Great Glen. Families and young children can take part in exciting missions of exploration, reveal hidden stories and complete badges for activities such as trail finding, historical storytelling and nature discovery. The top five missions so far include:

#1 Discover Culloden’s weapons at Culloden’s battlefield.

#2 Trekking through Glen Nevis

#3 Uncovering Merkinch’s hidden nature

#4 Spot the birds of prey at Abriachan forest

#5 Sail Away at Fort Augustus

There are some excellent activities here which can be enjoyed by families and groups of all ages – get out and about in the spring weather and discover more of our rich cultural heritage, landscape and natural environment!

Dunkeld and Birnam for Kids by Kids Publications

Ali Hammerton and I were in Dunkeld for a meeting earlier in this week at the Birnam Institute. On our way out of the building we spotted these brilliant booklets published by P7 pupils at the Royal School of Dunkeld. They are the result of some detailed research and inquiry into the local area and provide helpful maps, reviews and information for visiting children. These resourceful P7s have been able to put their communication and artistic skills to work to let other children know about the best places to visit, to eat and to find out more about local history. We were really impressed with their work (and lucky enough to be able to purchase several copies) and it was lovely to see how getting out and about in the outdoors can provide a real and relevant context for developing skills in literacy.

Creativity in the Curriculum

Sometimes professional learning really is too much fun !

Grounds for Learning recently held their annual outdoor play and learning conference with the theme of Creativity in the Curriculum. As usual the day was packed full of opportunities for creative learning outdoors, with workshops on school grounds development, den building, numeracy, storytelling, big science and collaborative community art! Thanks to Scottish Natural Heritage, the grounds at Battleby HQ were as lovely as ever and the high quality CPD provided was enjoyed by everyone.

Midlothian Outdoor Learning Network Good Practice Gathering

Enjoying mathematics with Kate Walters

I spent a lovely Saturday recently playing and learning in the spring sunshine with a group of creative educators from Midlothian (and a couple of East Lothian additions too!) Chalmers Smith organised a brilliant day filled with active and practical workshops for educators from all sectors. Beeslack Community High School has wonderful grounds and the sunhine meant that we were out for most of the day exploring and gathering ideas for numeracy, literacy and health and well-being as well as science through woodland activites, turbo journeys and discovery play.

Jane Garven and Donna Begg from Cowgate U5 Centre

Seaside School

© Rob McDougall

Scottish Seabird Centre launches beach education programme
“One lesson outdoors is worth seven inside” Professor Tim Brighouse

Multi-sensory, experiential and exploratory are the name of the game for the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre’s brand new outdoor education programme, Seaside School.

Using the beautiful beaches of North Berwick, pupils will be encouraged to engage with the natural environment in a multitude of ways, with topics specially tailored and designed to support the Curriculum for Excellence.

Seaside School has been developed by the Scottish Seabird Centre’s Education Officer Jenny McAllister, focusing on the benefits of outdoor learning to encourage connections between the real world and the classroom, while offering stimulus for creative learning, critical thinking skills and social development.

There are workshops linked to each area of the Curriculum for Excellence: there is the opportunity to explore Technologies in a number of ways including boat building and egg protection challenges; Numeracy through map reading and scavenger hunts; Social subjects via rock pooling and archaeological digs; plus Science through activities such as tides and forces, and bird watching.

Expressive Arts can be experienced in a range of ways including beach art and animal drama; Literacy through storytelling; and Health and Wellbeing via seashore safety and the John Muir Award.

Jenny McAllister, Education Officer at the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “The Scottish Government’s curriculum guidelines state that ‘outdoor learning is an integral part of good practice’ and our Seaside School offers teachers the ideal platform to undertake this.

“I can provide advice and guidance to deliver quality outdoor learning experiences while simultaneously encouraging pupils to care, appreciate and understand the amazing environment around them.

“According to educational writers Wells and Leckies; ‘When children become truly engaged with the natural world at a young age, the experience is likely to stay with them in a powerful way, shaping their subsequent environmental path’. This is in line with our vision for the Centre and an integral reason for us having developed this new educational offering.

© Rob McDougall

Building Boats

Vincent McWhirter has also been developing a boat building and rowing project in South Ayrshire schools for the last year linking into the Scottish Coastal Rowing project. Such a wonderful example of creative teaching and learning! What a great sense of achievement and pride these young people must feel when they get to launch and row their boat!