Teaching, Learning and Play in the Outdoors: a Survey of School and Pre-School Provision in Scotland

G. Mannion, L. Mattu, M. Wilson

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


In Scottish pre-schools and schools, through the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence and other policies, it has become an expectation that pupils will receive opportunities to learn outdoors within subject areas and in interdisciplinary studies. This expectation needs empirical investigation. To what extent, in what ways, and with what impacts are schools and pre-schools utilising the school grounds, local areas, and other places beyond as settings for the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence?

Unlike surveys that ask schools to report in hindsight on provisions of outdoor learning, this research collected evidence from teachers themselves about a large number of individual learning events over two comparable periods during the summer terms of 2006 and 2014. The survey generated data from random and non-randomly sampled1 pre-schools and schools across Scotland about outdoor learning event durations, locations, foci, and other contextual aspects. Using over 1000 records of outdoor events across both surveys, we can construct a comprehensive account of a national changing picture since the inception of Curriculum for Excellence.

This report provides new baseline measures on the impacts of taking learning outdoors. There is significant evidence on how outdoor learning provision is understood to enhance engagement, and challenge and enjoyment, for example. We can also report on the prevalence of themes in learning (such as sustainable development), the association of going outdoors with the pedagogical approaches taken (such as cooperative learning), and the effect of schools’ locations in areas of deprivation on provision.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationPerth, UK
Commissioning bodyScottish Natural Heritage
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015

Publication series



  • outdoor
  • curriculum for excellence
  • pre-school
  • school
  • education
  • learning


Dive into the research topics of 'Teaching, Learning and Play in the Outdoors: a Survey of School and Pre-School Provision in Scotland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this