Since March this year the OWL project staff team has been working with Scourie Primary School pupils and teachers to assist with their expanding outdoor learning plans. When we were first asked to visit Scourie school the whole school and nursery had embarked upon a weekly morning outdoor session. The school was extremely lucky to have been offered the use of a small, local woodland for their outdoor space – it’s a beautiful mixed woodland within walking distance, just perfect for everyone. The staff had been learning a lot about how to run outdoor sessions and were very keen for new ideas that can be used to deliver the curriculum outdoors.

We first focussed on maths as this is traditionally seen as a subject that needs to be taught in a classroom using textbooks and jotters. The maths mud kitchen is a great way to engage with maths in a practical sense but with the fun of getting muddy and creative – weighing and measuring amounts, adding and subtracting, estimating, counting.

© Fiona Saywell / Scottish Wildlife Trust

One of the subjects that the staff were keen to introduce was the use of the campfire. Of course we could help with this! Campfires are great tools for learning and we used it to find out about sustainable energy sources, one of the science topics in the curriculum for excellence. Then the pupils made real food in the form of damper bread and pancakes, cooking them on the campfire, yum!

© Fiona Saywell / Scottish Wildlife Trust

We also included a teacher only session where we discussed more ideas for the outdoors but also covered areas of planning and preparation – how to help minimise environmental impacts on the woodland, aspects of risk assessments and what to include in an emergency kit. The OWL project has also been able to fund some of the teaching staff from Scourie to attend accredited Woodland Activity Leader Training and Outdoor First aid training.

Since starting to work with Scourie School, the teaching staff have expanded the outdoor learning provision to one full day a week for the whole school and nursery. With the enthusiasm shown by the staff, pupils, parents and carers of Scourie School for outdoor learning, its fantastic to know that the OWL project has helped to play a part in establishing this approach to learning for the current and future pupils of the school.

Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape

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