Community Mentors Workshop 1st/2nd November Perth

Kerry Riddell from the Conservation Volunteers sends through the following information about a community mentors workshops coming up in November:

The Conservation Volunteers Community Mentors Programme is developing a network of Community Mentors throughout Scotland through a series of regional training and support programmes. This highly regarded programme has already trained 200 mentors throughout Scotland to inspire their own communities to take action to protect and improve the environment and work towards more sustainable lifestyles. 

The 2 day training workshop provides participants with the skills and knowledge to raise awareness and inspire action in their own communities. Participants also work on developing their own unique skills, producing Action Plans for their communities and learning tools to take forward practical Community Projects to improve the local environment and take action for a more sustainable planet. After the workshop, participants can access support from local TCV Scotland staff and will be provided with resources and access to national and local skills sharing and networking events through our Community Network. 

The Perth workshop will be held at  The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, The Old Granary, West Mill Street, Perth, PH1 5QP –  lunch will be provided. For information about how to book please see the flyer below: 

30 Comm Mentor Perth (3)

Apple Day at Holyrood with Fruitful Schools

John Hancox and the Fruitful Schools team hosted a corker of an event at Holyrood recently to celebrate Apple Day.

Guests at the event feasted on applepie, applecake, applejuice and many varieties of heritage apples. John Hancox writes the following about the event:

‘Thanks to everyone – especially the sponsoring MSPs and their staff – and events team at the Parliament, Gill Orr, John Hay, Henry Paul and Nicky McIntyre  for bringing part of the apple collection, the other half coming from me,  Kelly McIntyre, Margaret Welch for the apple gifts, Rowena Statt for the awards certificates, Reuben Chester of Locavore and Helen Blackburn for Salvation Army for the fantastic apple pies and cake,  and the many other people who helped out on the day, or who just came along. I’d urge people to join Scottish Orchards – which is a Scotland wide network of fruit growing enthusiasts – and help us to create a Fruitful Scotland.

We spoke yesterday about the work with school and community orchards, and with encouraging small holders and farmers to start to look at growing fruit commercially in Scotland again. In the years since we have started to awards these Holyrood Apple Days there has been great progress towards our dream of a Fruitful Scotland. Our Fruitful Schools project has been really successful launched with Government support in 2010. The Central Scotland Green Network have put some money into an Orchard grant scheme which is also good news for those in Central Scotland. It’s encouraging that businesses and private landowners such as Atholl Estate continue to help support community orchard planting. 

I was personally delighted to be able to make our Fruitful Scotland Awards to Ferryhill Primary, to  City of Glasgow College, Upward Mobility, Atholl Estates, Coffee Conscience, Hilary Fraser. I also am delighted that John Butterworth was able to come and receive his award – truly for inspiring this movement – and a Lifetime Award for Services to Fruit! I also was pleased that we could give our wee Awards to Sarah Boyak MSP, Alison Johnstone MSP, Alex Fergusson MSP, Jim Hume MSP, and Jean Urquhart MSP. ‘

Well done John for bringing us together for such a wonderful event! 

Outdoor Learning Winners in the Cairngorms National Park

Learning outdoors in the Cairngorms National Park is proving to be a winning combination as schools in the area celebrate their success in the first ever Outdoor Learning Awards.

Organised by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), the Outdoor Learning Awards are set to be a biennial event. Winners receive a certificate, £300 to spend on outdoor learning and a flag to proudly show visitors and the community their achievements.

Winners of Lower Primary category, Aviemore Primary School, are extremely delighted to be able to hoist up their flag outside their brand new building. They have been studying biodiversity and produced an interesting report about taking part in the RSPB ‘Every Child Outdoors’ event.

Presenting them with their prizes, CNPA vice-convener Brian Wood said: “There is no better outdoor classroom than the Cairngorms National Park and the entries we received for the Outdoor Learning Competition demonstrate that pupils and teachers are very inspired by the environment around us. As a former teacher I know that getting children into the outdoors for learning can help stir their imaginations and capture their interest.

“We are very fortunate to have this resource on our doorstep and from science to history and from geography to art; there isn’t a subject in the curriculum that can’t be taken outdoors. We hope that the competition will help raise awareness among young people about what the National Park is about and the responsibility we all share for looking after this special place.”

Other winners were Abernethy Nursery who produced a big Forest School Book containing lots of photos of them enjoying local woodlands and Abernethy Primary School who submitted their report of the local tourism industry in the area. Grantown Grammar School were also successful with their competition entry which was a film all about their John Muir Award experiences detailing what they had learned. The Bridge Intensive Support Unit in Inverness were awarded for their powerpoint presentation which showed the activities they took part in the Cairngorms National Park and detailing what they had learned from their experiences.

The competition was open to schools and education facilities from all over Scotland who had used the Cairngorms National Park as a topic for their outdoor learning either remotely or by visiting the Park. The next competition will be in 2014.

Alan Smith, Outdoor Learning Officer at the CNPA commented: “This has been a great start to the Cairngorms National Park Outdoor Learning Awards, we received entries that showed the breadth of outdoor learning opportunities in the National Park and they were all of a very high standard; very well done to everyone who took part!”

Fruitful Schools at SLF

An orchard was ‘planted’ in the Developing Global Citizens’ corner of the Exhibition Hall at the Scottish Learning Festival last week when John Hancox and friends from Fruitful Schools helped delegates to ‘pick’, peel and crush their own apples to make the most delicious apple juice. John also talked with delegates about planting fruit trees and bushes, looking after orchards, learning about Scotland’s fruit growing regions and traditions and fruit growing/cooking as a fabulous context for interdisciplinary outdoor learning:

‘Fruitful Schools makes it brilliantly easy and fun for pupils, teachers, parents and friends to plant fruit trees and get growing. We provide fruit trees, planting information, inspiration and support which makes this great idea come alive. Our aim is that all our children should get the chance to enjoy picking and eating fruit from the tree. Growing fruit is a real pleasure and its also a life skill. Children need to know where their food comes from. It comes from fruit trees in abundance!’

Many thanks to John and his team for providing a truly delicious experience at SLF for all the delegates!

Find out more about the work of Fruitful Schools by visiting their website: There is also a glow site from the collected work of the School Orchards Project facilitated by Grounds for Learning, which can be visited here (Glow login required). October 4th is Apple Day this year and there will be many local and regional events in celebration of our rich heritage and associations with this humble fruit!  Both sites have lots of ideas and resources for celebrating and capturing the best of Autumn on this festival day in your school or community group.

John and his team are passionate about planting 2014 heritage fruit trees in Scotland in celebration of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Orchard helps people plant the finest Scottish fruit trees and to grow, pick and use delicious Scottish apples, pears and plums. Please get involved: we need schools, teachers, volunteers, businesses, funders, landowners, artists, planters, pruners, jam makers and fruit pickers and just about everyone else. The idea is creating a fruitful Scotland where everyone enjoys planting, picking and eating fruit.

There is a competition presently being run to ‘win an orchard for your community’ – more details here.

Whispering Woods Resource from NorthEastFEI

Schools in North East Scotland will receive a free of charge copy of a new book of stories from Scotland’s native woodlands by Alan Crawford. Funding to develop and publish Whispering Woods came from the Grampian Conservancy of Forestry Commission Scotland:
These beautifully illustrated stories evolved through a fortuitous,
accidental meeting between the author and a teacher searching for
original stories to read to children in the forest – stories that
would both capture their imagination and enhance their
understanding of, and respect for, the woodland environment.
They will bring much pleasure to all who love the natural world.
The book will be sold in various outlets by the author for £13 but he has given permission to offer it to schools, teachers and outdoor educators for a donation of at least £6 plus p&p of £1.50. For more information and details of how to obtain a copy, please contact Katy Leitch


Do-Be offer a fresh, fun and interactive approach to professional development. We help educators to use ICT to enhance learning outdoors and across the curriculum to make lessons inspiring, engaging and relevant for our 21st century learners.
Our CPD sessions help nurseries and schools make the best of their grounds and the technologies that already exist in school.Our Teach-IT Outdoors training aims to develop teachers confidence so they can:

• Use ICT to plan meaningful lessons outside
• Deliver fun and creative practical activities outdoors
• Record, reflect and share experiences with the wider world

Please click on the link below to view a sample lesson idea.

The Teach-IT training can be sustained using our latest resource Teach-IT Outdoors. All lessons are curriculum linked and highly transferable to other areas of learning and teaching. For more information please visit

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.

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