900+ Pupils Attend 2016 Orienteering Festival – Final Results

imageOver 900 pupils took part in the recent Orienteering Festival at Vogrie Country House. An amazing turnout to a fantastic event using this superb venue.

A huge thank you to the staff at Vogrie, the Active Schools team, ESOC and all the staff in the Primary Schools who entered their enthusiastic pupils and made the event possible.

The event was organised by Midlothian and East Lothian Outdoor Learning Services and has been a great success and we hope to run again in 2017.

Three linear courses were set out for P5, P6 and P7 that challenged their navigational abilities.

  • We had over 500 entries-  made up of pairs, teams and solos.
  • A total of over 900 pupils – up on last year.
  • A total of 24 primary schools. 12 from ML, 12 from EL – well up on last year.
  • Several schools brought OVER ONE HUNDRED pupils – amazing.

All young people appeared to enjoy the opportunity to partake in this event. Plenty of smiles from our confident, successful learners.

Congratulations to all the pupils who took part. The Midlothian winning schools in each category are:


Nadia & Charlie – Hawthornden PS

Fastest School – St. Mary’s PS 


Cameron & Innes – Kings Park PS

Fastest School – Tynewater PS


Sarah – Mayfield PS

Fastest School – Tynewater PS

imageResults can be found here: Orienteering Results 2016. The key to the school codes can be found here: ML-ELC Primary School codes  – these are all the results for all schools – you can see how well your individual teams and pupils performed. We will arrange for trophies for the fastest students to be sent to each school.

We will be running more Discover Orienteering in the 2016/17 year, but for those that wish to take their talent further and pit themselves against others from across Scotland then you need to enter some great events coming up;

Scottish Schools Orienteering Competition.(click link) – Closing date for Entries  – 26th May 2016

More Orienteering opportunities locally can be found on these club websites: ELO  and ESCO

Discover Biking – 400 Students Get Cycling


IMG_0008Over 400 students attended the Discover Biking Sessions run over 10 days. The activities took place at various locations within Midlothian – including Loanhead Park, Penicuik Park and Dalkeith Campus. The P6 & P7 students came from 7 Schools.

During the sessions the pupils learned how to do a simple bike check. They learned how to change their gears and use their breaks affectively. They put these skills into use by ascending and descending some steep slopes safely. After this they had the opportunity to test their ability on the Bike Skills course – completing the slalom, rumble strip and track stand. Once they practiced that a few times they got timed – with penalty points for any mistakes.

The skills the students learnt were transferable. They could easily complete a simple bike check before a cycle at home, or cycling over the rumble strip is similar to cycling over tree roots in a forest. It was rewarding to see all students’ confidence improve in the two hour session.IMG_0005

There are a few things students and school staff could do to develop their skills further –

(1) Have a look at this web site www.gomtb.org.uk

(2) Attend the Primary Bike Festival

(3) The Outdoor Learning team regularly go into schools and provide Mountain Biking sessions, if this is of interest please get in touch.

(4) Keep in contact about future Discover Biking sessions

This year again, – Discover Biking was a great success. If your class participated in these activities – why not challenge them further with a journey on bikes next?

Discover Bushcraft – Pilot Sessions Oversubscribed

Over 200 students attended the Discover Bushcraft Session run over 4

IMG_8910 days. The activities took place at Vogrie Country Park and Penicuik Estate. The P3 & P4 students came from 4 Midlothian Schools.

During the sessions the pupils and staff learned about the art of Bushcraft. Each student participated in 3 different activities. Firstly a fire lighting station – here they used a fire stick and lit a small fire, secondly a hammock station – this is where they learnt about putting up hammocks safely working together in pairs and thirdly an environmental art station – they read a book and made stick men models form natural resources.IMG_8909

The students had numerous opportunities to learn about; managing risk, to evaluate their work, to be inspired by a range of stimuli when working on art and design projects, to work and learn with others. It was no surprise the toasting of marshmallows was a big hit!

There are a few things students and school staff could do to develop their skills further –

(1) Have a look at this web site – www.owlscotland.org

(2) Think about attending Forest Schools training – a leaflet can be found here.

(3) The Outdoor Learning team regularly go into schools and provide Bushcraft sessions, if this is of interest please get in touch.

(4) Keep in contact about future Discover Bushcraft sessions

The pilot sessions were a great success. They provided an activity for a whole class and targeted a younger age group. It was experiential learning – which the students relished.

P5, P6 & P7 Orienteering Festival – Entries Welcome


IMG_5641The P5, P6 & P7 Inter-school Orienteering Festival takes place at Vogrie Country Park on the 4th of May 2016. This year the Festival will be open to all Primary Schools in Midlothian and East Lothian.

The main aims of the Festival are to:

  • Have fun!
  • Promote alternative physical activity in the outdoors
  • Provide an opportunity for pupils to compete in the sport of orienteering
  • Further increase pupils’ understanding of maps
  • Experience skills for learning and skills for life
  • Meet pupils from other schools

Festival information:

  • Schools can enter P5, P6 & P7 classes
  • There will be 3 different Orienteering courses suited to the ability of each class
  • There will be no charge for this event
  • Each school is responsible for arranging the transport of pupils to and from Vogrie Country Park
  • Each class can expect to be involved in Orienteering activities for about an hour
  • There will be no tuition on the day and it is expected participating students will have received tuition in their school grounds or at a CATO event
  • Schools will be asked to attend either a morning or afternoon time slot within school hours
  • Before or after the Orienteering Event schools can avail of other opportunities at Vogire Country Park – e.g. Orienteering warm up activities (staffed by Outdoor Learning) or Adventure Playground, Woodland walks – these should be fully organised and supervised by attending school staff
  • The winner of the fastest P5 pupil, P6 pupil, P7pupil, School and Authority will be announced after the event

To enter:

  • To enter please email me (eoin.keane@midlothian.gov.uk) the name of the school, the number of classes, the class size and the number of adults that will be attending by the 18th of March 2016
  • Once all interested schools have replied, further information will follow

Other resources and events:

  • An interesting booklet for coaching orienteering in primary schools is available from New Zealand click here to see it.

Outdoor Learning Lesson Plan – Links to CfE

boys in wood

At the Outdoor Learning Service we have always known about the value of the lessons we provide. We regularly discuss this with teachers when arranging activities to ensure their students get the most out of the experiences they are engaging in. Now we have produced an Outdoor Learning Lesson plan that clearly identifies and details links to the Curriculum for Excellence.It is no surprise that a number of Experiences and Outcomes can be linked to the activity days we provide.


The lesson plan is broken down into 4 sections;

1. The stages of the lesson – this is simply the experiences in chronological order that pupils will have when working with our team.

2. The aim – an explanation as to what we hope to achieve at each stage of the lesson, it provides us with basic criteria to assess our success.

3. The example of activity – this section identifies some of the activities that might take place at different times during the lesson. Although similar lessons take place at the Outdoor Learning Service often they can be quite different because of the nature of our amazing Outdoor Classroom.

4. Some examples of the links to CfE – here the stages of the lesson are closely linked to specific Experiences and Outcomes. This is not a definitive list and Outdoor Learning can be used to teach all subject areas – it has numerous cross-curricular themes.

This lesson plan can be used when considering future programmes with the Outdoor Learning Service or possibly when delivering Outdoor Learning at your school. It is a generic lesson plan which broadly covers some of the core lessons we teach at the O.L. Service. Of course, if required we can teach more specific lessons which focus on particular Experiences and Outcomes your class may be working on.

The Lesson Plan can be found by clicking on this link: Generic Outdoor Learning Lesson Plan. 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.