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25 November, 2019

School pupils join call to help nature

More than 100 schools have signed up to offer pupils in our most disadvantaged areas outdoor learning sessions in nature, Deputy First Minister John Swinney announced today. 

Through outdoor learning and play, young people can enjoy and learn about the outdoors in their local area.

Spending time in nature helps people to understand and value it more – a key step in addressing biodiversity loss and tackling climate change. Nature has also been proven to improve mental and physical health for people of all ages. It can also contribute to a range of educational outcomes and help reduce the attainment gap, giving pupils who might struggle in a classroom environment an opportunity to thrive.

Mr Swinney joined children from the 100 schools at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, to create an art project from natural materials as he called on more schools across Scotland to join the scheme and get involved over the next year.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:  “Learning outdoors has many benefits, from developing an appreciation for the natural world to problem solving, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of both pupils and teachers. Building in opportunities for outdoor learning into everyday school activity means young people from all backgrounds have the opportunities to engage, understand and help our natural world.”

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive, Scottish Natural Heritage said: “We know how important getting outdoors is for children’s health and wellbeing and for their learning. 

“A priority is to make use of local parks and greenspace to help make sure every child can access regular, structured time outdoors. This is so important in learning how to value and explore our wonderful outdoors, and starting heathy habits that can last a lifetime.”

Over the next year, SNH and partners will work with over 100 schools to deliver regular outdoor learning activities to over 3000 pupils in their local greenspaces, as well as providing professional learning to approximately 250 teachers.

Contact information

Cat Synnot

Notes to editors


When: Monday 25th November

RV at Fletcher Building reception: 1200 hrs.

Media op begins:1215

Media op ends: 1315hrs

What: Deputy First Minister John Swinney will join children from the 100 schools that have signed up to the outdoor learning in nature project at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, to create an art project from natural materials, as he calls on more schools across Scotland to join the outdoor learning scheme and get involved over the next year.

Where: Outdoor collaborative art space (weather permitting) and indoors at nearby Fletcher building, Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ. (Note: The Fletcher room is best accessed from the East Gate on Inverleith Row. Map attached.)

In attendance: John Swinney, Deputy First Minister; Scottish Natural Heritage’s Chief Executive, Francesca Osowska; school pupils from the 100 schools

Contact: Cat Synnot, Publicity Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage m: 07770 957334 /

Media release, STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 1315hrs Monday 25 November.  

Attached: audio file of soundbite interview with Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive, Scottish Natural Heritage, for broadcast use.

SNH and partners are working with schools in disadvantaged areas to encourage greater use of local greenspace for outdoor learning and play. As well as supporting educational outcomes, this work is making a positive contribution to one of the Big Steps for Nature identified in Scottish Government’s Biodiversity Strategy and Route Map to 2020.

SNH research found that learning in green and natural places increases learner engagement and challenge and enjoyment - one of the 7 principles of curriculum design:

The art project at Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh was led by artist Kate George  of Rowanbank Environmental Arts & Education. Rowanbank has been creating innovative environmental projects for over a decade. Their talent is combining interactive physical theatre and art with environmental education, engaging audiences and participants of all ages and backgrounds.

Scottish Natural Heritage is Scotland's nature agency. We work to improve our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. We work to ensure that all nature in Scotland - our key habitats and landscapes, all our green space and our native species - is maintained, enhanced and brings us benefits. It is the job of all of us to achieve a balance in the sensitive management of our natural world in order to maintain and enhance biodiversity. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

'S e Dualchas Nàdair na h-Alba buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Tha sinn ag obair airson ar n-àrainneachd nàdarra ann an Alba a thoirt am feabhas agus a h-uile duine a bhrosnachadh gus barrachd cùraim a ghabhail dhi. Gus am bi an nàdar air fad ann an Alba – ar prìomh àrainnean is chruthan-tìre, ar n-àiteachan uaine gu lèir is ar gnèithean dùthchasach - air an gleidheadh, air an leasachadh 's a' toirt bhuannachdan dhuinn. 'S e an dleastanas a th' oirnn uile co-chothrom ann an stiùireadh faiceallach ar saoghail nàdarra a ruighinn airson bith-iomadachd a ghleidheadh 's a leasachadh. Airson an tuilleadh fios, tadhail air an làraich-lìn againn aig no lean air Twitter sinn aig


SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska on Outdoor Learning in Nature

SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska on Outdoor Learning in Nature

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Map Fletcher building

Map Fletcher building

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