Greenspace for Learning & Play

All young children should be entitled to a high quality environment which supports opportunities for play, learning, social relationships and emotional and physical wellbeing. Developing play spaces and play opportunities, and removing barriers to play are a priority if Scotland is to increase activity levels of children as part of an approach to health improvement. Through the delivery of the Green Network, partners can deliver new opportunities for outdoor learning and play, improve the co-ordination of support for teachers and other professionals, and examine ways to overcome the barriers (including aversion to risk) to children and young people enjoying the outdoors.

The SNH Teaching in Nature project supports teacher-led professional development in outdoor learning at local places of importance for nature, such as NNRs, LNRs and regional parks. In 2012, SNH established projects involving 35 teachers in East Ayrshire, Fife, Stirling, North Lanarkshire, West Lothian and Inverclyde and, working through Grounds for Learning (GfL), 10 teachers in East and Mid Lothian.

With SNH grant support, GfL is also delivering a range of activities in the CSGN area, including training and CPD, the identification and write-up of best practice cases studies across the CSGN area; and the delivery of Sharing Good Practice events on greening school grounds. With support from FCS and SNH, GfL took staff from the CSGN area on a study tour in 2012 to look at play facilities in Berlin. Scottish Government funding has also supported work on natural play environments, with 10 projects developed in the CSGN area.

Since 2011, the CSGN Learning Outdoors Fund, supported by FCS, has made awards of £250 to £500 to 325 schools and nurseries. This has allowed the purchase of equipment and waterproof clothing and for small scale projects to be implemented.

CSGN Development Funding has supported 11 play-based projects.

To help improve opportunities for learning and play in the CSGN area, we aim by 2016 to ensure that:

  • Support and advice on incorporating green/natural spaces into school design is available to local authorities and others undertaking school building/ refurbishment programmes.
  • The number of teachers confident/trained to use outdoor spaces for learning has increased significantly following a programme of Continuing Professional Development training and events across the CSGN area.
  • Work with local authorities has identified key gaps/deficits in provision of greenspace in and around schools a series of improvement projects have been taken forward.
  • A network of good practice exemplars (sites and teaching practice) has been identified or created across the CSGN area and supported to disseminate learning to the education sector.

This work strand is being led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).