Increasing the amount of time children spend outdoors as part of their funded early learning and childcare entitlement is one of the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s expansion. The Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd has visited one such setting, who have been championing an immersive, nature based, outdoor nursery since 2009.

Stramash Social Enterprise an established outdoor provider, welcomed news of the near £1 million recent Scottish Government investment to encourage and support greater use of outdoor learning in the early years, and were keen to show the Minister how this can be delivered in practice.

In her visit to Stramash Oban, the Minister met a range of childcare representatives and parents during the visit and discussed how to provide a high quality, outdoors care and learning experience for more Scottish children.

Ms Todd said “It’s been an absolute pleasure to visit Stramash today and to see the children so full of fun and obviously enjoying the outdoors. We know playing and learning outdoors improves mental wellbeing, health and fitness, confidence levels and resilience and we saw lots of that in action here today. We believe that the almost doubling of funded hours by 2020 provides a fantastic opportunity for us to redefine the way that early learning and childcare is delivered in Scotland, with a real focus on outdoor play.”

Stramash aims to connect children and young people with nature through outdoor-based nurseries in Inverness, Oban, Fort William and Elgin, along with providing tailored outdoor projects for schools.

Robbie Drummond, Chair of the Stramash board said ‘The case for outdoor learning and play has been made, we know the benefits include improved health and wellbeing, developing resilience and increased connection to the natural world. We believe that an early years experience in Scotland’s wild spaces can support healthy child development and contribute to closing the attainment gap. We have seen it for ourselves and want as many children to have access to those benefits as possible, however that best works for individual families.

Stramash are encouraging a hybrid approach to learning giving parents the opportunity to split their children’s learning between conventional and fully outdoor provision.

Maggie Tierney CEO said “It was a great pleasure to welcome Ms Todd to our inspiring nursery setting in Oban. It is our privilege to be part of providing a nature rich childhood for over 300 children and families across Scotland. We are excited to show more of the nuts and bolts of how it is done and what unique opportunities it provides, so that outdoor play and learning can be part of a ‘new normal’ in Scotland’s Early Years’

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