Scotland's most remote areas have one thing in common with its cities - walking is a learning experience, says Deedee Cuddihy
When deciding what trips to go on, schools often mention the cost of bus transport. For Liza Bracken, it's plane fares.
She's headteacher at Fair Isle Primary on one of Scotland's most remote inhabited islands. Her eight pupils fly several times a year to the Shetland capital of Lerwick (a 25-minute journey) for swimming lessons, French tuition and theatre performances.
Since moving to the island last April, Liza has initiated a local once-a- week outdoor education slot for her pupils. Already this term they've walked to a croft to learn about traditional Shetland hay stacks and they will meet another crofter who makes spinning wheels.
Where school trips are concerned, Jane Bruce says a major element is filling in the risk assessment forms. Jane is head of Papdale Primary in Kirkwall. She runs the biggest primary school in Orkney, with several hundred pupils, and loves getting the pupils out and about, and lifts much of the organisational stress from colleagues' shoulders by getting the school's business manager to deal with the paperwork.
Pupils learn about business, tourism and job opportunities on free trips to the island's creamery, jewellery workshops and even the whisky distillery. "We also have a beach day, sessions with Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wardens, free entry to Orkney's fabulous prehistoric sites and outings to Stromness Museum," says Jane.
On the mainland, John Lawson, head of Blackfriars Primary in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, believes a trip out that involves an element of walking is more beneficial to the 250 pupils at his school. He says: "We make lots of visits, from Primary 1 up, to local places. So we walk to the leisure centre for swimming, as well as to nearby parks and the Citizens Theatre.
"Walking incorporates not just exercise, but lessons about road safety, litter and architecture. We also take advantage of Glasgow's free museums and the Primary 7s go to the Scottish Parliament."
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