OL Stores Opening & Contact & Outdoor Learning Service Closure

The Midlothian Council Learning Service is now closed. Thank you to all the Midlothian Education establishments for the amazing support and enthusiasm for supporting this approach to learning over the lifetime of the service. Over just the last 10 years alone a fantastic +24,500 pupils had an outdoor learning experience and 3600 staff received training with the service.

The store function will remain open through 2018-19 to help support schools and practitioners who continue to use the outdoors as an approach to learning to deliver CfE experiences & outcomes and wider achievement awards. A range of equipment and resources are available to borrow/hire to support leaning activity. Get in touch with the stores for more information

Training for Visit Leaders and Visit coordinators is also still available as are the SQA accredited First Aid Training courses. Training details are still available in the CLPL drop down menu.

The Outdoor Learning store can be contacted as below:

Stores Contact: Mike Brookes

Email: Michael.Brooks@midlothian.gov.uk

Telephone: 01968 664122

The stores will be manned on Thursdays and Fridays and are located to the area of Penicuik High School. Location map link here

The website will currently remain for information only. If you require further information please contact Bill Stephen – Education Support Officer – william.stephen@midlothian.gov.uk  Tel: 0131 271 3720

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.


Visit Leader Training & Visit Coordinator Training 2018

Book soon to grab a place on these CLPL courses

Are you planning and leading school visits? coordinating visits within your school.  Then these courses are for you. Places are going fast for the next 2 training events after the Easter Break 2018. You can book on learnPro and see more details here.

Visit Leader Training  – 27th April 2018  (Hurry only 1 space left)  – This course is aimed at teachers and educational staff and is a requirement for those who are involved in leading and the planning of off site visits

Visit Coordinator Training – 4th May 2018  – Training for each designated offsite trip coordinator  for every educational establishment. This is aimed at those in schools who authorise and approve visits.

These courses are developed nationally by the Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education and the Outdoor Education Advisors Panel and cover sessions on all the elements and requirements for leading Midlothian Educational visits.


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