Scotland aims to boost role of outdoor learning for nursery-age children

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The Scottish Government has pledged more than £860,000 to boost outdoor learning in the early years.


Scotland's minister for childcare and early years Maree Todd wants outdoor learning to become 'a defining feature of childhood'

Minister for childcare and early years, Maree Todd has pledged to to raise the number of hours nursery children spend outdoors.

The aim is to to make playing outside in nature part of the way children in Scotland learn and develop from an early age.

Anti-poverty organisation Inspiring Scotland will receive the £862,550 of Government money to encourage and support greater use of outdoor learning in the early years.

Inspiring Scotland will use the funding to:

  • work with eight of Scotland’s 32 local authorities to deliver outdoor learning opportunities;
  • produce a ‘how to’ guide for practitioners, with practical advice on how to access outdoor spaces;
  • drive partnership working between councils, third sector and private companies in promoting outdoor learning and;
  • help organisations review the impact of outdoor learning when delivering the expansion to 1,140 hours of funded childcare.

 Ms Todd said, ‘The significant expansion of funded early learning and childcare gives us the perfect opportunity to define the type of experience we want to offer our children during their early years. That is why we are committing more than £860,000 to increase the use of outdoor learning, to ensure it becomes a defining feature of childhood in Scotland.’

Dr Catherine Calderwood, chief medical officer for Scotland, added, ‘We know the benefits of outdoor learning, exercise and play for young children, in terms of their health and wellbeing and their physical and mental development. Playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps improve wellbeing and resilience, increases physical activity and allows children to use the natural world to develop curiosity and science skills.

‘There is also a growing body of research that shows children with higher levels of active outdoor play have improved cognition, which can result in better academic performance and contribute to closing the attainment gap.’

Chief executive of Inspiring Scotland, Celia Tennant, said, ‘We are delighted to be supporting Scottish Government to establish high-quality outdoor play as the essential catalyst for healthy childhood development and a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.

‘Our role will include supporting local authorities and social enterprises to develop and scale up outdoor nursery provision alongside supporting good practice to embed outdoor play-based childcare, helping to make playing outside in nature part of the way children in Scotland learn and develop from an early age.’

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