Last Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2022

Developing nurturing relationships in Early Years in Dundee

What is this?

The ‘Nurturing Nature’ project at Longhaugh Nursery in Dundee is part of the whole school improvement priority to close the poverty related attainment gap. Local green space and outdoor learning is used to support parent/child relationships and develop healthy attachments. The project highlights the positive impact a naturalised outdoor environment can have on health and wellbeing and in boosting resilience. It empowers parents to build confidence and capacity in using outdoor spaces with their child, both within the group and outwith the school day. ​

Who is this for?

​Early learning and childcare (ELC) practitioners, ELC leaders, teachers, head teachers, and parents/carers.

How to use this exemplar to improve practice

These approaches and strategies are designed to support educators to consider approaches already evaluated to support the development of nurturing relationships and health attachment.

Improvement questions

  • How well are children living in areas of the most disadvantage achieving?
  • If taking forward this approach how would you know it is impacting positively on children?
  • How well are you developing partnerships with parent to enhance the outcomes for our learners? How do you know?
  • How is our family learning supporting families’ progress in relation to the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators? How do we know?
  • What do we do to address parents/carers own learning needs in areas such as literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing?
  • How do we know our support to parents/carers has led to further engagement in children’s learning within the setting, at home and in the wider community?


PowerPoint presentation: Nurturing Nature (3.9 MB)

What was done?

Longhaugh Nursery School worked in partnership with Grounds for Learning to establish a group of 10 children and parents. The aim was to build confidence and capacity of children and parents to use a local greenspace to play and learn together. Children, parents and staff learned how to cook on campfires, whittle sticks, build dens, hang hammocks and use a wide range of tools and equipment including mallets and pegs. They learned how to assess risk and engaged in self-directed play within a natural environment. As a community, they also learned how to care for their own spaces by planting and caring for trees.  


National Health Scotland, Growing Up in Scotland and Dartington, assessment data, Standardised Assessments all confirmed there is a need for early intervention to address the vocabulary gap in Early Years in Dundee and to enhance the capacity of the parents and families to support their children’s learning.

​What was the impact?

Using the digital technology to gather feedback and data from the first phase of implementation, it was found that:

  • 20% of parents would now use the woods with their child once a month
  • 80% of parents would now use the woods with their child once a week
  • 100% agreed/strongly agreed that Nurturing Nature had a positive impact on their family
  • 100% would recommend Nurturing Nature to another family

In cycle 2, two families chose to repeat the project and one parent is now co-leading the project alongside staff, and is fully involved in the processes of evaluation and measure. Having parents as leaders within the group had a positive impact and empowered other parents/carers to become leaders in their children’s learning.