Educational establishments in Central Scotland, keen to improve their grounds, local green spaces and woodlands, can now benefit from an extension to the Central Scotland Green Network’s (CSGN) Learning Outdoors Fund.

The CSGN Learning Outdoors Fund, supported by Forestry Commission Scotland, is now in its second year.  It aims to promote learning and play outdoors and healthier lifestyles amongst the education communities by backing the development of the outdoor space around nurseries and schools.

Schools and nurseries across Central Scotland can apply for a grant of between £200 and £350 to develop the outdoor educational space within their grounds and beyond, to encourage more children to participate in outdoor learning and natural play.  The grant can be used to either develop the space or purchase equipment to use for learning or play outside.

Funding is also available to support training or other educational resources to enable staff to lead outdoor learning and natural play.

An audit tool, developed in partnership with Grounds for Learning, enables schools and nurseries to identify potential gaps in their provision of learning outdoors so they can prioritise areas of improvement.

Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Partnership Board, said:  “The CSGN is Europe’s largest green space initiative and has the potential to benefit the lives of the 3.5million people currently living in Scotland’s central belt.

“A key priority for the CSGN is to create an environment which supports healthy lifestyles and good physical and mental well-being and our Learning Outdoors Fund will facilitate the improvement of outdoor educational spaces in Central Scotland to encourage children, and the adults who work with them, to spend more time outside.”

In its inaugural year, the CSGN Learning Outdoors Fund awarded a total of £50,000 to over 100 schools and nurseries across Central Scotland.

Allanton Primary Nursery Class in North Lanarkshire received funding to transform its overgrown, under-utilised nursery garden.  The nursery created a fun outdoor classroom which provides children with stimulating opportunities for sensory natural play and learning as well as raised planters for growing vegetables and plants, enabling them to learn about the environment in a positive and productive way.  

The project has enriched the outdoor environment with natural materials which stimulates the children’s senses and provides a wide range of learning experiences and outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence.

Karen Boyd, Education Officer at Forestry Commission Scotland, said: "We would encourage all school and nursery establishments to apply for this next round of funding either to extend an existing outdoor learning project or to kick start a new one. 

“Learning outdoors is such an enriching and rewarding experience for children and can make a real difference to their development.   Being outdoors and using their five senses helps children to pick up new concepts and, of course, they take the energy of being outdoors back into the classroom which helps with concentration.

"The funding can be used for outdoor equipment, like wet weather gear to make sure that weather isn't a barrier to getting outside, and can take place within school grounds or at local woodlands nearby.  The feedback received from recipients of last year's fund is really positive with fantastic examples of how children have benefited from learning outdoors."

Click here for further information on the CSGN Learning Outdoors Fund and to complete an application form.