Who got that job?

22nd January 2010 at 00:00
Ever wondered who got a job you saw advertised in The TESS? Alison Hammerton is braced for change and the great outdoors

For the outdoors type, this must be the dream job. It certainly appears to be so for Alison Hammerton, Scotland's first development officer for outdoor learning in the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs national parks.

Tall, fit and "strapping", as they used to say, even as she sits in the offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland, you can imagine her striding up hill and across glen, instructing a party of schoolchildren on anything from the geological structure of the Great Glen to the nesting habits of the capercaillie. What you probably wouldn't guess - unless she told you - is that she's also a rugby player and coach.

A teacher for 12 years, Miss Hammerton, 40, is more used to being based in the classroom than the great outdoors, although she led numerous fieldwork expeditions in her previous job as principal teacher of geography at Fernhill School in Glasgow, an independent establishment that is co- educational for primary classes but all-girls at secondary.

She studied geography and PE at Loughborough before moving to Bristol to do her PGCE. Soon after qualifying, she had the chance to teach in Christchurch in New Zealand as part of a year-long exchange and was able to enjoy "lots and lots of aspects of the outdoors", including skiing, walking and rugby.

She moved back to Scotland from Bristol in 2003, taking up a post as principal teacher at Biggar High before moving to Fernhill two-and-a-half years ago.

No two weeks in her new job will be the same, she predicts. The post is a secondment to Learning and Teaching Scotland to promote outdoor learning as a key approach to delivering Curriculum for Excellence through Scotland's National Parks, but she is effectively employed by a partnership of LTS, the national park authorities, Scottish Natural Heritage and a consortium of seven local authorities.

What made her apply? "With my interest, experience and background, it just seemed like a fantastic opportunity to be involved with enthusing and encouraging Scotland's young people to enjoy the outdoors and its national parks, and to help them learn things which they can carry on for the rest of their lives."

Research over the past few years has identified bureaucracy and risk aversion as the main barriers to outdoor learning. But the creation of Miss Hammerton's post should remove some of these strains from schools.

She will be involved in the first national framework for outdoor learning, due to be published in a few months' time. She will also help to develop online resources linking to the national parks as well as various other projects, which have yet to be announced.

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