Explore the ways learning can take place outside but remain within the boundaries of your grounds, or close by. Use the spaces most accessible to you and bring learning to life in an exciting and engaging way.
Learning outside can take learning far, but it needn't be far away.
The advantages of taking learning outside are extensive and are often not always immediately obvious:
- the opportunity to make mess, to explore and discover, and to make noise
- the fact that mentally and emotionally the outdoors is a very different place from the classroom.
Regular access to a safe and stimulating outdoor space provides an opportunity to deliver all aspects of the formal, informal and hidden curriculum in a way that meets the needs of children and young people for hands-on experiences and physical activity.
Some grounds already offer a variety of learning opportunities, others have yet to maximise their potential, but all grounds, however small or featureless, can contribute with a little development.
Outdoor learning begins in the playground
If you are planning a visit beyond the school gates with children or young people, why not develop your ideas or practise in your school grounds first? The playground and surrounding space can be ideal for follow-up activities too - reinforcing and extending the learning gained from the visits further afield.
Developing your grounds
You don't need a big area to achieve excellent learning and teaching in your grounds, and there is plenty of experience to learn from. Why not start by asking other schools in your local area? Or, for a small membership fee, you can join Grounds for Learning (GfL), the school grounds charity for Scotland.
GfL runs a programme designed for Scottish schools, helping them use and develop their grounds to provide better teaching, learning and play opportunities. Visit the GfL website to find out more and get access to free advice.
Support materialDownload Section 4 of Outdoor learning resource, or see the full resource.PDF file: Outdoor Learning: Section 4: Places to learn outdoors: school and centre grounds (235 KB)
Grounds for Learning videos
Video: Grounds for learning
Video downloadGrounds for Learning (35.1 MB)Grounds for Learning for iPod (6.3 MB)
Video: Messy outdoors maths
Video downloadMessy outdoor maths (52.2 MB)Messy outdoor maths for iPod (9.3 MB)
Video: Natural curriculum in the early years
Video downloadNatural curriculum in the early years (60.8 MB)Natural curriculum in the early years for iPod (10.9 MB)
Video: The creative spark in literacy
Video downloadThe creative spark in literacy - GFL 3 (50.1 MB)The creative spark in literacy - GFL 3 for iPod (8.9 MB)
Video: Fire as a context for learning
Video downloadFire as a context for learning (52.4 MB)Fire as a context for learning for iPod (9.4 MB)
Video: Nature's playground
Video downloadNature's playground (61.6 MB)Nature's playground for iPod (11 MB)
Video: The Berlin story
Video downloadThe Berlin story (71.4 MB)The Berlin story for iPod (12.7 MB)
- GFL: Grounds for Learning
- Grounds for Learning: Messy Outdoor Maths
- Grounds for Learning - Natural curriculum in the early years
- Grounds for Learning: The Creative Spark in Literacy
- Grounds for Learning: Fire as a context for learning
- Grounds for Learning - Nature's Playground
- Grounds for Learning: The Berlin story
If you would like to develop your grounds for biodiversity, visit Scottish Natural Heritage’s website. You could also participate in the Eco Schools programme, and undertake the biodiversity or school grounds modules.
Developing your grounds also offers a variety of ways to engage local partners. Building these links can be essential to developing a useful space, and learners can become involved in the process of working with partners, too. For example, perhaps a local garden centre can provide plants and advice, or even a member of staff to work with children and young people to deliver a session on looking after a garden, or on wildlife gardening. Other organisations may also be able to help, so have a look at our useful organisations pages.
Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning, 2010
The school grounds are often the first step in taking pupils outdoors and for staff considering progression to learning contexts further afield. Younger children in particular can explore, and develop a sense of ownership of their school grounds in their own time on a daily basis. As well as contexts for learning, the school grounds can engage the local community as partners who can often provide good sources of expertise, finance and other resources for development projects.