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Outdoor Learning and Leadership at SpeysideHigh School

Outdoor Learning – that is, any and all learning which takes place in, through and about the outdoors be it a built environment or a natural one – is a central element of Curriculum for Excellence. It is an approach to teaching and learning in all subjects and helps to support a coherent understanding of the curriculum as a whole. Outdoor learning is a helpful and engaging approach to learning about literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, and is a vital part of developing skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work. As such, at Speyside High School we believe making effective use of the outdoors is an important part of what we do to help our school community be ‘healthy, happy and high achieving’.

With the huge benefits of learning in the outdoors being evidenced across the country, and with the superb local environment in which we are located, providing opportunities for every child to experience the potential of the outdoors is an important focus for us.

Outdoor learning and opportunities for leadershipat all levels are both strong features of Curriculum for Excellence. Both provide pupils with experiences which develop personal skills and qualities which are hugely important to their success in school, in life and in work. Building confidence in our pupils and developing personal skills such as communication, time management and problem solving is the responsibility of all subjects and teachers. Learning about themselves as individuals and as citizens, and learning about any subject through the outdoor environment makes the learning relevant, stimulating and memorable for pupils.

In our view, the four capacities which form the central pillars of Curriculum for excellence – successful learners, responsible citizens, effective contributors and confident individuals – cannot be fully developed through a curriculum which is entirely classroom based. Pupils must have real world, challenging experiences which engage and develop all of their senses and which provide opportunities to develop resilience, initiative and determination to achieve their dreams and goals.

Currently and historically pupils at Speyside High School have enjoyed opportunities to learn in and about their local area, for example through Science and Geography and Rural Skills courses, and to travel far and wide through day visits to the Cairngorms, to the coast, and to a number of Scottish cities and of course a range of international visits. Pupils are now experiencing increasing opportunities to explore the local area through PE options such as orienteering, mountain biking and kayaking; through our interdisciplinary studies incorporating the John Muir Award; and voluntary involvement in the Duke of Edinburgh award. Pupils also have varied opportunities for leadership roles large and small within classes, for their house, across the school, through Skillforce in S3 and S4, and in S6 as an SQA award.

As the provision of outdoor learning and leadership develops over the coming years we are keen to build on our engagement with the community. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, or if you have a skill, an area of expertise, or simply have time and an interest to offer support, and you would be happy to explore working with us in a volunteering capacity, please do get in touch.

Ali Hammerton

Teacher of Outdoor Learning and Leadership