What’s already known about my possible enquiring approach?

Last year I undertook an online course with the British Council and Edinburgh University that began to develop my thinking around Learning for Sustainability. This year I am leading the school improvement plan focus on Learning for Sustainability. I have done quite a bit of reading around theory and policy in this area in Scotland and further afield and have seen multiple themes arising which have created ‘my itch’. One of the key themes that arises within the literature surrounding Learning for Sustainability is the need to shift from a knowledge based method of Learning for Sustainability to a skills based method. Moray House’s Learning for Sustainability: Issues for Education Election Briefing (2016) emphasises the need to focus on skills as well as knowledge, values and attitudes. It is thought that by equipping pupils with flexible and sustainable knowledge, skills and values, they will be prepared for work and life in a future that cannot be fully predicted. The British Council document, Unlocking a World of Potential: Core skills for learning, work and society, breaks down some of the core skills that can be achieved through Learning for Sustainability and explores why they are important and how they might be achieved. It was through considering the importance of skill development that I came to the decision of focusing on techniques to develop these skills. As part of the SIP focus that I’m leading, I’m introducing Loose Parts Play across the school. Simon Nicholson’s Theory of Loose Parts explains that our structured environments for learning reduce the potential for flexible skills to be developed. With this in mind, I have decided to look at how Loose Parts Play can help to develop sustainable skills for life, learning and work.

5 Responses to “What’s already known about my possible enquiring approach?”


  • Hi Faye, this sounds interesting. Is it about a shift from knowledge-based to skills-based or about combining the two more productively? It sometimes feels that there is confusion around definitions of knowledge and skills and how they relate to each other. What are the sustainable skills for life and learning and, from your own study and practice, how do they relate to knowledge?

    • These questions really got me thinking Emma. I feel like knowledge and skills are both equally important but often the skills are overlooked. Knowledge is required to be able to understand and apply the skills. I liked what I read in the British Council ‘Unlocking a world of potential’ document which talks about knowledge and skills as “a double helix, progressing in tandem from surface learning to deep learning…”. In terms of sustainable skills for life, I think it is about giving pupils the skills to be able to solve problems and address issues which don’t yet exist. By developing problem solving, critical thinking and creativity skills, pupils can use the best of their knowledge to apply these skills to unfamiliar situations. The skills are needed to solve the ever-growing problems the world faces and we need imaginative ways to address them. Businesses are increasingly looking for creative, entrepreneurial skills within their workforce in a rapidly changing society. We teach in creative ways at school and allow children to use their imagination within their learning but within my practice their are limited opportunities for pupils to enquire, explore and experiment across the curriculum. I’m hoping that my enquiry approach will be the start of my journey to develop this.

      • Thanks for your reply, Faye. Your thoughts and ideas have got me thinking too!I see what you are saying about providing opportunities to apply knowledge in different ways and on regular occasions.

  • Hi Faye
    Our school launched Loose Parts Play this term and it’s been very exciting. We had lots of support from PlayScotland
    http://www.playscotland.org/parents-families/loose-parts-play/

    I love how it builds creativity, social connections and problem solving – which are all future-proof skills for life and work. We’re also finding children are more relaxed after playtime and health and wellbeing benefits everything in life… I can’t wait to hear more about your choices of skills to develop!

    • Thanks for this Fleur – looks really useful. As I get further on I might need to call on your experience in launching Loose Parts Play.

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