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The National Parks first ever Outdoor Learning Development Officer is confirmed in post

14th December 2009

The post of National Parks Outdoor Learning Development Officer, created by Learning and Teaching Scotland, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority  (LLTNPA) along with other partners (see below), was launched on Monday 14th December at 13:00 in the woods near the Old Bridge of Tilt, Blair Atholl. The majority of the Local authorities within the National Parks are funding partners for this post. (See below for details)

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham was at the launch and watched as a group of 6 children from Grantown Primary school, created their own mini National Park in the woods at Blair Atholl, and explained why their park was important and why it should be preserved.

The Minister said “Scotland’s national parks are one of our national treasures and I am delighted to see them being used in this way to benefit children’s learning. Playing and learning outside provides opportunities for  children to use all their senses, to experience the wonder of the natural world and to enjoy a greater sense of freedom and independence.

“Next year will be the International Year of Biodiversity. In Scotland we look forward to celebrating our environment and promoting awareness and knowledge of nature on our doorstep through initiatives such as outdoor learning, to help protect our unique biodiversity”

Alison Hammerton, who has been appointed to the post, will aim to help the Scottish National Parks become effective resources for delivering the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) through outdoor learning. Outdoor learning offers an ideal framework for achieving the 4 capacities that form the foundation for the CfE: successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.

Alison said “Scotland’s two national parks offered really wonderful resources for people of all ages to  appreciate, and it is exciting to be involved in this opportunity to introduce and engage Scotland’s young people  in enjoying the Scottish outdoors and to consider the value of conserving such resources. It will be very rewarding to work with many dedicated teachers to help provide wide ranging and challenging outdoors lessons for children of all ages and abilities which will help them to develop into well rounded, successful individuals”.

The two Scottish National Parks are ideally placed to help deliver the CfE through outdoor learning, not just for  the schools whose catchments lie within the Parks, but importantly for those schools remote from the parks, who might face barriers to engaging with National Parks and National Nature Reserves.

National Parks showcase the best of Scotlans!s natural and cultural heritage, and can provide a quality experience using trusted outdoor providers. They provide packaged experiences and activities to support  visits to the National Parks, and educational resources and outreach facilities for schools remote from the Parks.

David Green Convener of the Cairngorms National Park Authority Board said “This will embed Scotland’s National Parks into the new school curriculum and create incredible outside learning opportunities for school pupils in the fantastic settings around Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and the Trussochs. Building the bond between landscapes and youngsters will enhance their understanding and appreciation of the environment and its many challenges.”

The Core responsibilities of the post are: To help schools overcome barriers to developing sustainable outdoor learning programmes for example transport issues and risk assessment. To map learning opportunities in the Parks to the CfE, including cross curricular activities. To review existing packages to present schools with a more focussed menu of outdoor learning activities. To support the development of and promote best practise outdoor learning projects that can be potentially rolled out across Scotland.