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March 11, 2010

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Juliet Robertson

The head and shoulders winner is The Coombes School in Berkshire. Susan Humphries the former HT is a consultant who visits Scotland fairly frequently to work in the Stirling area. The school has been developing its grounds from a grassy playing field and patch of tarmac for over 30 years. However, it's the creative approach to using the grounds as part of the daily learning and teaching that really makes the difference. The practice is formidably good here especially in terms of science. Learning through Landscapes have a 3 day course at the end of June which includes a visit. Contact www.ltl.org.uk

In terms of a wider outdoor learning approach there's some fantastically good practice such as Sowerby Primary and others that I can't remember off the top of my head.

In terms of secondary schools, I've never seen anything that's truly inspired me yet. However there's been some very good projects. I'd go up to Highland and see Inverness Royal Academy for their market gardening enterprise, Dornoch Academy for general outdoor learning and one of the Fort William schools does a great cross curricular project on Ben Nevis.

Closer to home, I'd be visiting some of the natural playspaces in Stirling Council and Merrylees Primary in Glasgow has had a lot of attention for various natural playground projects.

For nursery schools - go to the Cowgate U5's - the HT has an OBE for her services and the outdoor space says it all - even has a nice big musical wind chime. Also visit Mindstretchers Nature Kindergartens in Perthshire.

Juliet Robertson

Oh yes - I forgot to mention my blog - "I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!".

Last week I did a wee posting about willow structures in school grounds. I'm about to do one on KapKa School in Seattle which has beautiful artwork - all completed by children, parents and staff. Click on my name if you want to have a look.

Juliet Robertson

Just one more thought - I eat my words about secondary schools. Whilst it's not exactly a secondary school, Raploch Community Campus in Stirling is good inspiration for secondary school folk in that the campus houses a nusery, ASN base, two primary schools and a further education college. The grounds were designed in consultation with the local community and are interesting and attractive and certainly my son who's in S2 gave it big thumbs up. I think many secondary schools would find this worth a look for starters. Plenty of grounds development opportunities still exist there, mind.

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