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Work begins to expand outdoor nurseries in eight local authorities

Work begins to expand outdoor nurseries in eight local authorities

Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors team has begun work with eight local authorities to encourage and support greater use of outdoor play and learning in the early years.

Inspiring Scotland was awarded funding from Scottish Government earlier in 2018 to increase the delivery of outdoor play and learning opportunities as part of the expansion of the funded early learning and childcare entitlement to 1,140 hours per year by 2020.

Local authorities submitted bids to be one of eight council areas to benefit from the money with Argyll & Bute, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highland, North Lanarkshire, Midlothian, South Ayrshire and West Lothian selected.

Inspiring Scotland’s role will be to support local authorities, existing nurseries, charities and social enterprises to work in partnership to establish and expand outdoor nursery spaces for local children.

Maree Todd, Minister for Children & Young People, helps out a Stramash

Rachel Cowper, Thrive Outdoors Programme Manager for Inspiring Scotland, said: “Research clearly and consistently identifies outdoor play as vital to emotional, physical and mental health and well-being and critical to all aspects of childhood learning and development. “

“We are only working with a select group of local authorities with the ambition, aspiration and willingness to become more outdoor focussed.  We will support the eight councils to establish high-quality outdoor play and learning as the critical catalyst for healthy childhood development and make it, once again, a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.”

As part of the funding, Inspiring Scotland will also produce a ‘how to’ guide for practitioners, with practical advice on how to access outdoor spaces, in conjunction with the Care Inspectorate.

Inspiring Scotland has been working to increase free outdoor play opportunities for Scotland’s children since 2010 including supporting Glasgow City Council with the creation and delivery of three outdoor nursery partnerships in the Castlemilk, Drumchapel and East End areas of the city.

Utilising its a network of practitioners, training providers and educational and outdoor experts, Inspiring Scotland will support to the local authorities with everything from staff training and site identification to effective engagement with partners, practitioners and parents.

Speaking at a visit to Stramash outdoor nursery outside Oban, Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People, said: “We know playing and learning outdoors improves mental wellbeing, health and fitness, confidence levels and resilience and we saw lots of that in action here today.

“We believe that the almost doubling of funded hours by 2020 provides a fantastic opportunity for us to redefine the way that early learning and childcare is delivered in Scotland, with a real focus on outdoor play.”

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