No harm in taking a few risks

5th October 2012 at 01:00
Weighing up the dangers is a vital part of learning, says Glasgow's guidance. Henry Hepburn reports

Children must be presented with risky activities and taught to embrace Scotland's changeable weather, according to the new outdoor learning strategy published by Glasgow City Council.

The main focus is that all youngsters in the city are entitled to outdoor learning and schools should not be put off by inherent risks.

"Risk needs to be managed, but it is also recognised as a creative and exciting force, and a key learning experience for us all," it states. "It is important that young people develop the skills to assess and manage risk and protect themselves and others by reducing the potential for harm."

Neither should Scotland's unpredictable weather be an impediment: "There is a tendency for most outdoor learning to occur when the weather is `nice', and being outdoors on a sunny day is without doubt an enjoyable experience for most.

"However, snow, wind and rain offer different learning opportunities, and schools should consider how to include these when planning progressive outdoor learning."

Glasgow education services have made several promises around outdoor learning, which include: providing continuing professional development throughout the year; organising a training conference for early years and one for primary; and supporting a professional learning community to share practice across secondary schools.

"Interdisciplinary learning is a key component of Curriculum for Excellence, and learning outdoors not only removes the classroom walls but the boundaries between subjects," says Stephen Curran, executive member for education and young people.

He believes that Glasgow, with over 90 parks and open spaces, is "ideal" for outdoor learning.

"Research has shown that active learning outdoors often stimulates and motivates learners to engage for longer and with less disruptive behaviour," he adds.

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