MSP learns more about outdoor learning from Teacher of the Year

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MSP Jamie Hepburn met with the Scottish Teacher of the Year, Jenny McAllister and Tammie the Puffin at the Scottish Parliament, to endorse outdoor learning in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s schools as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Jenny is the education officer at the Scottish Seabird Centre, an independent visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, which runs a seaside school for outdoor learning.

It has proved an outstanding success in its first 18 months, with Jenny’s work in encouraging children to learn and develop through outdoors experiences winning her the title of Scottish Teacher of the Year 2013.

Jenny is the first non-classroom teacher to win the award.

Mr Hepburn said: “It was great to meet with Jenny and I would like to congratulate her on being named Scottish Teacher of the Year 2013. This great achievement is made all the more special by the fact that she is the first non-classroom teacher to receive it.

“This is a great opportunity to highlight the value of outdoor learning. I was pleased to hear from Jenny about the positive impact that the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence is having, and that it is enabling more and more children to experience different kinds of learning.”

Jenny McAllister, Scotland’s Teacher of the Year and education officer at the Scottish Seabird Centre, said: “In my childhood I loved playing outdoors, but in one generation that has changed. Children have become more tied to indoor pursuits, and that has led to a gap between people and nature.

“That’s why I see learning outside the classroom as being so important. In England, it would appear that resources have been diverted away from outdoor learning – this is disappointing because it would mean English children are missing out on what I believe are vital learning experiences in the natural environment.

“So the Scottish Government, along with the largely supportive opposition parties, deserves much credit for pushing this up the agenda. I’m so proud and happy to be teaching in a country where progressive and sustainable outdoor learning opportunities are now firmly embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence.

“It’s incredibly fulfilling for teachers like me to see the difference that this sort of learning can make to a child’s life.”