Last Updated: Friday, April 29, 2022

Spotlight on equity and outdoor learning experiences

What is this?

This article references the many and wide ranging benefits of outdoor learning experiences for children and young people, including its potential to raise attainment, narrow poverty-related gaps, improve wellbeing, support engagement and promote wider achievement. With links to useful references and sources.

Few practitioners who have led or supported outdoor learning experiences would deny the potentially transformative effects for children and young people of learning and playing outdoors, including in and from nature.

For many children and young people, the Attainment Scotland Fund has been usefully deployed throughout the life of the Scottish Attainment Challenge to overcome some of the practical and financial barriers to outdoor learning, such as costs associated with transport, equipment, outdoor clothing, professional learning and access to wider achievement awards including The Duke of Edinburgh's Award and The John Muir Award.

Many practitioners use the outdoors as a motivating context to target poverty-related gaps, promote wider achievement, enhance learner engagement and support wellbeing. The John Muir Trust's ‘Closing the Gap’ and ‘Education Recovery’ reports provide useful examples of ways to use the award to support equity, including in the present context. Some other examples of projects which evidence impact for equity include:

As we start 2021, the Year of Childhood hosted by the Children's Parliament, and perhaps especially in the context of the pandemic, outdoor learning experiences may be even more beneficial for our children and young people than ever before.

Looking ahead to the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scottish law, outdoor learning and play will be continue to be a feature of the educational landscape and the drive to achieve excellence and equity. Scotland’s Coalition for Outdoor Play and Learning Position Statement affirmed this view, “Playing outdoors enhances learning and is fundamental for children and young people to thrive in health, wellbeing and development. It is our shared responsibility to support and enable all of Scotland’s children and young people to access our diverse greenspaces and natural landscapes and to empower them to enjoy these spaces for the purposes of playing and learning. “

Further reading and links to resources:



National Improvement Hub summary of outdoor learning resources

Royal Highland Education Trust resource portal

Playful Schools: Toolkit for delivering Loose Parts Play in Covid-19

Playful Pedagogy Toolkit

Learning through Landscapes: Outdoor lesson ideas

Outdoor Classroom Day resources

HGIOS4 outdoor learning John Muir Trust

Beyond your boundary: easy steps to learning in local greenspace resources


Guidance &


Inspiring Scotland: Thrive Outdoors

Inspiring Scotland: Tuesday Tips Play for Primary Schools

Scotgov: Out to Play creating outdoor play experiences for children: practical guidance Feb 2020

Going Out There: Scottish Framework for Safe Practice in Off-site Visits

National Improvement Hub: Education recovery and support from outdoor education centres


Professional learning


Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE): Supporting Learning Outdoors

Education Scotland webinar outdoor learning August 2020



Case studies

Policy Scotland: Outdoor Learning Briefing Paper

The Conversation: Scotland's outdoor play initiative has some lessons for the rest of the world

TES coronavirus has outdoor learning's time come

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