Deep Blue Scotland

The Secret Life of Seals – watch again on Glow TV

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!

Sailing and Sustainability in South Ayrshire

Vincent McWhirter, DofE Development Officer, has been working with all secondary schools in South Ayrshire on a unique and creative sail training project. Last summer, the project included travelling to Turkey to take charge of a 40ft yacht and sailing in the Gulf of Fethiye for a week exploring remote islands and coastlines.  While at sea the pupils also participated in their John Muir Discovery Award learning about the marine environment and the importance of protecting the marine environment. During their expedition they also did a beach clean in a remote Turkish bay, removing lots of plastic containers and other floating rubbish.

Other groups spent time visiting remote berths and marinas around Mull, Loch Linnhe and Oban and doing a beach clean near Malaig. All groups were involved in the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Community Sighting programme recording and reporting cetacean sightings. The waters of the Hebrides are one of the most important marine habitats in Europe, home to nearly 70% of its whale, dolphin and porpoise species, in addition to basking sharks and seals.

All pupils spent several months preparing for the expeditions with sea training and RYA navigation courses delivered by the Central Scotland Sea School.   In addition they spent a week training on a yacht in the Firth of Clyde and the west coast as their practice expedition, in preparation for their Qualifying adventure.  While at sea all the pupils completed their RYA Competent Crew certificate.

This year there will be three expeditions going to Turkey and one up the west coast of Scotland. Many thanks to Vincent for sharing this information.

Cairngorms Outdoor Learning Competition

Cairngorms Outdoor Learning Competition

What is it?

This is a biennial competition for educational establishments (e.g. schools, nurseries, youth clubs/groups, outdoor centres, etc) to recognise and encourage Curriculum for Excellence work that raises understanding and awareness of the Cairngorms National Park and its special qualities among pupils. Entrants should be bold and creative in their approach and draw from all aspects of the curriculum not just obvious subject areas such as geography and biology.

The competition is run by Cairngorms National Park Authority

There will be three age categories:-

  • Early  years and lower Primary 3 – 8 years old
  • Upper Primary 8 – 12 years old
  • Secondary  12 – 16 years old

If successful what will you win?

There will be a 1st and 2nd prize for each age category.

As well as recognition for good work, the successful establishment will be presented with:-

  • 1st Prize £300 grant to develop outdoor learning.
  • 2nd Prize £150 grant to develop outdoor learning.
  • A framed ‘winners’ certificate.
  • A National Park flag.

We will also promote good entries on GLOW, Education Scotland and Cairngorms National Park websites.

Who can enter and what does it cost?

The competition is free to enter and open to any educational establishment in Scotland.

How do you enter?

Simply complete an entry form (available from ) and tell us in no more than 1000 words (and pictures) –

  • about your work on the Cairngorms National Park,
  • what difference it has made to your understanding of the Cairngorms National Park.
  • what you would do with the grant if you won the competition to further develop outdoor learning opportunities at your establishment.

Don’t be constrained by the format, we’re happy to get a presentation in a format of your choice (DVD, Powerpoint, music etc) so long as it is no longer than 5 mins (about the time it takes to read 1000 words.

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