Call For More Support for Outdoor Learning in Dumfries and Galloway

Brian Whittle MSP is leading calls to give children greater access to outdoor learning during school time. This follows a recent visit by the MSP to the RSPB Scotland’s Mersehead Reserve on the Solway.

During the visit, the South Scotland MSP toured the wetlands reserve that’s home to a wide range of birds including lapwings, ducks, geese, curlews and numerous other species and saw how the RSPB are encouraging more children to visit the reserve, get out into the countryside and learn how they can help birds, insects and other animals to thrive and support their local environment.

While the RSPB does all it can to keep the costs of these activities low or even free, in recent years there’s been a decline in the number of pupils visiting as transport costs become a victim of tightening school budgets. But MSP Brian says he hopes schools will take advantage of new attainment funding going to schools and spend some of it encouraging outdoor learning.

Brian Whittle MSP said:
“I was delighted to accept the offer of a tour from the RSPB and see how they’re working both at Mersehead and other reserves across Scotland to not only protect nature but to encourage more of us to get out there and enjoy it.
Encouraging people to be a little bit more physically active in their day to day lives would have huge health benefits for Scotland as a whole. It’s important that the next generation grow up with physical activity as part of their everyday lives. If schools can bring pupils to places like Mersehead and give them a taste of what the great outdoors has to offer, many of them will be inspired to explore it in their own time. I hope schools across South Scotland will consider using their share of the attainment funding to support more outdoor learning.
Outdoor learning takes many forms and it’s possible for pupils to visit somewhere like Mersehead and apply their experiences in the classroom in subjects like geography, biology, maths. I want to encourage all schools to think carefully about how they can incorporate outdoor learning into their curriculum and work with organisations like the RSPB to achieve this.”

Chris Rollie, RSPB’s Area Manager in Dumfries & Galloway said:

“It was brilliant to get Brian to Mersehead and show him the fantastic wildlife spectacle there, from overwintering barnacle geese and ducks to tumbling, displaying lapwings, curlews and redshanks.  Various studies have shown how beneficial getting outdoors and enjoying wildlife can be to our health, and it’s great fun too!  Encouraging young people to visit places like Mersehead is healthy in itself, but also provides opportunities to stimulate and develop their interest in wildlife and the outdoors that could bring lifelong benefits too.”

Link to Brian Whittle MSP’s motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting outdoor learning – http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S5M-05008&ResultsPerPage=10

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