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04 September, 2014

Planned and delivered! Teachers gain recognition for nature-based projects

Almost 100 teachers across Scotland have gained formal recognition for their efforts to learn more about our landscape, plants and animals.

The teachers were awarded Professional Recognition in Outdoor Learning from The General Teaching Council for Scotland after working with Grounds for Learning (GfL) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

They had taken part in SNH and GfL’s ‘Teaching in Nature’ projects and GfL’s Lead Teacher in Outdoor Learning Project. ‘Teaching in Nature’ evolved from a research project undertaken for SNH by the University of Stirling, also called Teaching in Nature. The projects match teachers with natural places, and the people who know about these.

Teachers planned and delivered visits to their place linked to other indoor and outdoor work with their class. They collaborated with other participants and shared plans and experiences, helping them overcome challenges and push their boundaries.

The benefits of outdoor experiences for young people’s learning, behaviour and physical and emotional health are now well recognised and Outdoor Learning is an integral part of the curriculum. However some teachers need support to fully integrate it into their practice. The professional development opportunities offered by GfL and SNH aim to provide this.

One of the teachers taking part in SNH’s Teaching in Nature project commented: “I have always associated Outdoor Learning with mainly Science topics or with Health and Well-being. I think this project has made me realise that Outdoor Learning has much more scope than this and that any curricular area can be covered outdoors."

Sharon Cunningham, SNH’s outdoor learning officer, said: “The Teaching in Nature project has allowed us to make a big impact on the participating teachers’ practice whilst making the most of available resources. A recent evaluation of our 2012/13 project shows that, one year later, most participants are still going out regularly and some have supported colleagues to do so too.

“The project also encourages teachers to access some of the National Nature Reserves we manage without being a huge draw on reserve staff time – something that is desperately valuable during the busy summer months.”

Matt Robinson, outdoor learning officer with Grounds for Learning, said: “It is satisfying to see the impact these programmes have on teachers’ and learners’ lives. This long-term course encourages teachers to make use of what they already know, using the outdoors according to the opportunities presented and learners’ interests, and is an incredibly powerful approach.

“SNH’s funding of our work has allowed us to develop these courses further, which has been recognised by the jump in numbers completing, and in accreditation by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.”

Notes to editors

For further information on SNH’s Teaching in Nature project, contact Sharon Cunningham on 01738 458642

For more information on GfL’s professional development opportunities for teachers, get in touch with Matt Robinson on 01786 477190 or

Scottish Natural Heritage is the government’s adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Our role is to help everyone understand, value and enjoy Scotland’s nature now and in the future. For more information, visit our website at SNH media is also now on Twitter at

Grounds for Learning is the Scottish programme of the UK charity Learning through Landscapes and supports outdoor learning and play for children. We enrich the lives of Scotland’s children by helping them to connect with nature, become more active, learn outdoors, develop social skills and have fun. Scottish Natural Heritage is one of our many funders.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) is the independent professional body which promotes and regulates the teaching profession in Scotland.

GTCS Professional Recognition provides the opportunity teachers to focus on and develop their professional learning in particular areas of interest and/ or expertise and gain recognition for enhancing their knowledge, understanding and practice.

Contact information

SNH Media

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig