Almost 100 Teachers gained Professional Recognition in Outdoor Learning from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS)

Almost a hundred teachers, from Inverness to Dumfries, have gained Professional Recognition in Outdoor Learning from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).
The teachers all took part in a number of programmes that were funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and delivered in partnership with Local Authorities and Grounds for Learning (GfL). A number of the courses have core costs funded by SNH, whereas some are part funded by the Local Authorities, who are increasingly wanting to support teachers journeys into taking learning outdoors more regularly.

‘Teaching in Nature’ evolved from a research project undertaken for SNH by the University of Stirling, aiming to connect teachers and learners with natural places and the learning opportunities they present. ‘Lead Teacher in Outdoor Learning’ was developed in schools, as a way of supporting teachers to take a role in supporting colleagues to take learning outdoors on a regular basis in the school grounds and beyond.

The benefits of outdoor experiences for young people’s learning, behaviour and physical and emotional health are now well recognised and Outdoor Learning is an integral part of the curriculum. However some teachers need support to fully integrate it into their practice.

One of the teachers taking part in SNH’s Teaching in Nature project commented: “I have always associated Outdoor Learning with mainly Science topics or with Health and Well-being. I think this project has made me realise that Outdoor Learning has much more scope than this and that any curricular area can be covered outdoors.”

Sharon Cunningham, SNH’s outdoor learning officer, said: “The Teaching in Nature project has allowed us to make a big impact on the participating teachers’ practice whilst making the most of available resources. A recent evaluation of our 2012/13 project shows that, one year later, most participants are still going out regularly and some have supported colleagues to do so too.

Matt Robinson, outdoor learning officer with Grounds for Learning, said: “It is satisfying to see the impact these programmes have on teachers’ and learners’ lives. This long-term course encourages teachers to make use of what they already know, using the outdoors according to the opportunities presented and learners’ interests, and is an incredibly powerful approach.”

“One of the key elements of the courses is the partnership with local authority development officers. This allows direct and ongoing support, as well as key questions being answered directly and access to support networks and local knowledge.

We worked with development officers in Moray, South Lanarkshire, Edinburgh, Stirling and Clackmannanshire to deliver these courses last year. Their support was invaluable, and the ongoing training and networks that they put in place will continue to spread good practice in outdoor learning.”
Grounds for Learning are working with East Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Moray, Dundee and East Dunbartonshire development officers in 2014-15, to deliver these courses to a further 100 teachers.

For further information, please contact:
Matt Robinson
Outdoor Learning Officer, Grounds for Learning
e-mail: mrobinson@ltl.org.uk