Local authorities across Scotland commit to life-enhancing outdoor play for children

Nicole Weinstein
Thursday, October 15, 2020

Playing and learning outdoors is fast-becoming a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland, following a national commitment from more than 100 organisations and people across the country.

Supporters want play and learning outdoors to be an everyday activity for all children in Scotland
Supporters want play and learning outdoors to be an everyday activity for all children in Scotland

COSLA, the National Association of Scottish Councils, is the latest major new signatory to sign Scotland’s Outdoor Play and Learning Coalition Position Statement, which is a commitment to making play and learning outdoors an everyday activity for all children in Scotland.

The Statement marks its second anniversary at a time when understanding and focus on the connection between the outdoors and children’s mental health has never been more needed.

Alongside the Scottish Government and Inspiring Scotland, bodies as diverse as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Glasgow Science Centre, as well as education groups, academics and NHS Health Scotland have signed up to the initiative, which was unveiled by Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors fund and Scottish Government in 2018.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA’s Children and Young People Spokesperson said, ‘The past seven months have been extremely challenging for all of us but particularly for our children and young people. The health and well-being of children and young people is paramount, and we all have a responsibility to them to make sure they are healthy and happy.

He added, ‘The actions set out in the Statement would play a central role in ensuring that we take that responsibility seriously.’

Inspiring Scotland deputy chief executive Helen Chambers said, ‘Many local authorities are looking at how to deliver more outdoor learning, as well as networks to support teachers and practitioners. COSLA’s endorsement is so important because we know that with the right support and encouragement, our educators can feel confident, happy, and skilled to deliver quality learning and play outside.’

Drawing on a comprehensive array of research, as well as substantial policy and legislative frameworks, the National Position Statement commits signatories to working together to embed playing and learning outdoors as an everyday activity and a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.

The positive effect that natural spaces have on children and adults is widely recognised, as is the idea that outdoor play and learning supports better childhood physical health and contributes to better wellbeing.

Outside spaces, and particularly more natural green and brown spaces, afford more space for movement and greater levels of activity. These are key to supporting better physical health and enabling children to reach recommended physical activity levels – reducing stress levels, and quite literally providing space to breathe.

Helping schools to expand how they operate so they can deliver the curriculum outside the four walls of the classroom can not only be a major component in supporting health and wellbeing, but also a way to ensure children do not miss out on education.

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