How can Students develop a Growth Mindset?……..Outdoor Learning of course!

It’s normal for the Team at the Outdoor Learning Service to be asked to develop a bespoke programme  to suit a specific student group to help address their needs. Such a request was made by Beeslack Community High School three years ago. A progressive programme of outdoor learning was required that would be student centred and challenge Zone groups from S1, S2 and S3.

The programme put in place was local and cost effective. In S1 the students complete day based activities; Beach walk, Bush craft skills, Canoeing. As the students progressed to S2 the programme was more challenging; a campcraft training day and a self lead expedition in the Pentland Hills (an amazing achievement considering some students had never slept in a tent before). In S3 the programme culminated in a week long multi-activity programme including; Canoeing, Biking and Coasteering. This year was the first year a group of students had participated right through from S1 to S3.


From the outset the main aims of the programme included;  developing confidence, increasing attendance, improving resilience and promoting life skills/independent living. As the students progressed through the three year programme there was anecdotal evidence to suggest that the main aims were being achieved. In school – greater engagement, better attendance,  less exclusion. In the outdoors, on activities – students pushing themselves physically, mentally – working hard caring and cooking for themselves on the residential.

In addition to the main aims – it was apparent the programme resulted in other significant valuable outcomes. Unlike the classroom setting – the flexibility of teaching in the outdoors enabled us to offer students the opportunity to have holistic enriched experiences. The students could learn at their own pace and opt for ‘challenge by choice’ where they set the level they participated at. The progressive nature of the programme ensured students acquired a mastery of skills and became highly proficient – giving them a great sense of achievement.

Repeatedly, students could be seen moving from a fixed to growth mindset. BCHS and Outdoor Learning staff worked hard to gain trust with the students to allow them to take perceived risks and reframe their fears of failure. Relationship building was a key feature, and took place in the school, the store, the mini-bus and right up to – reassuring, confidence building conversations on the edge of sea outcrops before submersion! The instant feedback often lead to a greater desire to learn and embrace further challenges. In some cases setbacks would take place, but through further discussion, persistence and resilience participation would continue and personal achievements where celebrated and embraced.

Working with such groups addressing some of the issues highlighted above, will inevitability raise attainment, but it requires programmes to take place over a number of years and to be central to other school based learning. When it comes to raising attainment the Outdoor Learning Service is multi-dimensional across all school stages in the authority – for more information follow this link.

In reflection, this programme is an example of great partnership work and highlights one of the many valuable learning strategies that the Outdoor Learning Service provides. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Beeslack Community High School over the last three years.


Outdoor Learning Service Raises Attainment

It’s no surprise to the Outdoor Learning Team that our close partnership work with schools can support students in raising attainment. When making bookings with teachers we highlight how the unique opportunities we provide can do this. Now we have produced an ‘Outdoor Learning Service Raises Attainment’ table that clearly identifies and details  – how our service achieves this. This document details Case Studies which show the depth and breath of the lessons we provide.

The table has 5 key sections;

1. Experiences provided – these are the different possible outcomes from the outdoor experiences we provide. Each outcome can contribute to raising attainment.

2. How does this raise attainment? – this column details how each experience raises attainment – what is it specifically about that activity.  

3. What does this look like? – here more detail is provided on the type of group and the kind of experiences that have taken place.

4. Case studies – this column provides hyper-links to actual case studies.

5. How can this be measured? – here the tools we can use to measure our impact are highlighted.

This table can be used when considering future programmes with the Outdoor Learning Service.  The table can be found by clicking on this link.

A fantastic evidenced based report has been completed by the Low Port Centre in West Lothian. The projects aim was to raise attainment in literacy and numeracy thourgh ‘Outdoor Learning Hubs’. To find out more about it click here.

If you have any further comments or examples regarding how you are using Outdoor Learning in your classroom we are always keen to hear them at the Outdoor Learning Service.



“Invaluable” – Outdoor Learning Service – Making a Difference – User Survey Results 2017

“I only wish more time could be devoted to outdoor learning so we can develop the confidence in the children and help them achieve more successfully at school” (User Survey 2017)

A huge thanks to all our Midlothian establishments who completed our recent 2017 Outdoor Learning Service user survey.

The Survey is now closed and the results are in.

We are delighted that so many took the time to make such positive comments about the quality of how we engage with schools to deliver Outdoor Learning to our pupils across the region.

100% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that:

  • Teaching sessions delivered were effective in connecting with learners needs
  • Equipment, teaching materials supplied and venue used were appropriate for your learners
  • Outdoor Learning Teachers were professional, friendly, knowledgeable and helpful at all stages
  • Outdoor Learning Teachers dealt appropriately with the welfare and safety of the learners

97% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that:

  • Sessions were  effective in connecting with the curriculum and planned learning outcomes
  • Learners enjoyed their outdoor learning experiences when using the service
  • Midlothian Council Outdoor Learning Service was good value

The comments on how you value the service and how it contributes to the breadth of education provided in Midlothian are also much appreciated.  You can see the full survey results at the link below.

We are always striving to improve the service and your feedback will input directly to our 2018-20 service plan.

Thank you all for your support in making our service succeed. We look forward to working with you further in 2018 -19 to develop exiting outdoor learning opportunities linked to curriculum and school improvement plans that help us all continue to raise attainment and learning across Midlothian and deliver Educational Excellence.

Click here for the full survey results


Ski Aosta 2019

After the success of our Ski Aosta 2017 visit , we are off again! – On Saturday 9th February 2019 (Midlothian schools 1/2 term)  we will once again be leaving for the AOSTA valley in Northern Italy for a week of amazing skiing.

The visit using INTERSKI  and qualified Midlothian leaders and volunteers includes 6 days of snowsports and includes 4 hours of instruction per day, equipment hire, transport, half board accommodation & snack lunch. Evening activities and insurance are also included

Aimed at our Primary and Secondary pupils this visit is an excellent opportunity for those pupils wishing to increase their skiing skills that they may have experienced through the after school, and schools ski programmes through active Schools and Midlothian Ski centre at Hillend

Download the brochure for our 2019 visit (click on image)

There are a number of limited spaces available. For more details on the visit and how to get involved you can download the ski visit brochure below that gives wider information on the visit and also download the poster/flyer if you wish to advertise within your school

Please contact Bill Stephen on 01968 664043  or email if you are interested in joining us.

Click on image for downloadable poster


We will be hosting an information evening for those already booked and others interested in joining this amazing opportunity on the 16th January 1900 at Penicuik High School LLE Room 1  – Come and join us and find out more.

You can also book NOW by completing the Booking form (available in the brochure above ) and at the link here.

NEW – First Aid Training 2018

You can new now view the First Aid training course dates for 2018 run by the Outdoor Learning Service at our website. Training dates have been spread across the year (including some INSET day scheduled  courses) to allow our schools and staff to access more easily throughout 2018

To view and book any of these courses see the links below – or access through the CLPL dropdown menu.

View/Book First Aid Training (click for link)

All courses are SQA accredited and cover the recently updated SQCF units for First aid

Emergency First Aid (6 hours) HV82 04 Level 6 – Emergency First Aid in the Workplace

First Aid at Work (18 hours) HV82 04 Level 6 &  HV83 04 Level 6 – Recognition and Management of Illness in the Workplace

First Aid at work Requalification (12 hours) HV82 04 Level 6 &  HV83 04 Level 6 – Recognition and Management of Illness in the Workplace

We look forward to working with you all in 2018. Please contact us if you have any enquiries regarding these courses