Get outside and learn, say the SNH

Learn Organically
Learn Organically

Teachers who bring their pupils into the outdoors find it makes their learning more enjoyable, challenging, active and collaborative .

That’s according to a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The study shows that outdoor learning in school and pre-schools has increased since Curriculum for Excellence was introduced but that further increases could be made.

The survey of nursery, primary and secondary schools looked at over 1000 outdoor lessons and compared results from surveys in 2006 and 2014.

Learning in green areas like parks, gardens, wildlife areas and woodland, as well as on residential outdoor trips, particularly increased children’s engagement and enriched the learning experience in many ways.

Overall, the study found that there was an opportunity to make more use of local green places to give children time outdoors at little or no cost.

Greg Mannion, one of the report authors from University of Stirling, said: “Our study shows that randomly sampled nurseries, primaries and secondaries are now providing more outdoor learning on average than in 2006, but what pupils get varies a lot from school to school and schools in deprived areas are offering noticeably less time outdoors.”

In nurseries, the vast majority of time outdoors was in the grounds, with only occasional trips made further afield.

Primary schools increased outdoor learning, especially in school grounds and by going on more residential trips.

Pupils in secondary schools have had only slightly increased provision since 2006 but appear to have less opportunity to learn in local areas or in the grounds.

SNH Chairman, Ian Ross said: “This is the second time that such a comprehensive study has been carried out in Scotland.

“It’s clear that there’s a positive trend and it shows that teaching outside, especially in green areas, benefits our children – it’s not just a lot of fun but it helps them learn.

The challenge for those of us working in this area is to find ways to help schools and nurseries - particularly those in deprived areas - get out more and make the most of the benefits nature can bring.”