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The head of an outdoor learning centre in Fort William has welcomed a new six-figure investment from the Scottish Government into outdoor learning and hopes the new funding will ‘take learning back to its roots’.
Team leader at Fort William-based Stramash outdoor learning Cameron Sprague said the allocation of £600,000 of funding for outdoor learning across Scotland is further evidence of the importance of using the outdoors for teaching.
Last Thursday, new rural affairs and natural environment minister, Mairi Gougeon MSP, announced the fresh investment, which she hopes will ‘connect children and young people with nature, the physical environment and our communities’.
Highland Council is one of three local authorities picked for a pilot by Thrive Outdoors, or Inspiring Scotland, who are delivering the project with Lochaber groups set to be involved with the delivery of outdoor education training.
Stramash outdoor nursery, based at the old BA Club near Inverlochy, is set to benefit from the investment.
Mr Sprague said: ‘We are extremely excited to see this investment in outdoor learning by Scottish Government. It is further evidence that the government, Care Inspectorate and other agencies not only are validating the benefits of outdoor learning for children, but also valuing it so much they want to create more opportunities for children to experience it.
‘I firmly believe outdoor learning is an equaliser and am so proud of the growing nursery community we have here in Lochaber. I’m hoping Stramash can support Highland Council and others develop their own early years outdoor practice over the coming years as we all prepare for the 1,140-hour expansion.’
Stramash is a community-based organisation with three outdoor learning campuses in Scotland, including Fort William and Oban, whose main aim is to reconnect children and young people with the outdoors.
‘At the heart of what Stramash is really doing is trying to make learning personal, real life and, most importantly, fun through the medium of the outdoors,’ Mr Sprague added.
‘Once you stop and think about it, we are just advocating taking learning back to its roots the way we were all designed to learn outside through play and exploration. It’s reaffirming and satisfying for me that through this investment the Scottish Government is saying that’s something we want as well.’
Young people aged three to 26 from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in Scotland can experience – some for the first time – the wellbeing that comes from outdoor learning and play.