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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-09541: Alexander Burnett (Aberdeenshire West)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 31 May 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to (a) the National Trust for Scotland and (b) charities to promote outdoor education.

Answered by: John Swinney 13 June 2017

Outdoor education encompasses a wide range of learning which can take place in a variety of outdoor settings. It includes activities in school grounds; science and geography fieldwork; environmental and countryside education; outdoor and adventurous group activities; learning through outdoor play; and visits to heritage sites or cultural events.

The National Trust for Scotland runs a number of outdoor learning programmes, for school age children and others, and provides settings which can be used for outdoor learning experiences through the properties and sites which it maintains. The Scottish Government contributes funding to support this work indirectly through grants and partnership work undertaken by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which is a charity registered with OSCR.

In the current financial year approximately £140k of HES’ core budget is allocated through its Learning Team and Ranger Team budgets to support projects, activities and events with Outdoor Learning elements such as exploring outdoor sites, project elements such as creative art inspired by outdoor settings, events such as guided walks and in-depth experiences such as wildlife surveys or John Muir Award. In addition, HES administers an educational travel subsidy scheme on behalf of Education Scotland which provides support for free educational visits to its historic properties and those of its partners, including the NTS. In 2016-17 this scheme provided over £140k of travel grants to enable over 32,000 students to participate in educational visits, of which £36.3k funded the travel costs of school visits to NTS sites.

Scottish Government funds Keep Scotland Beautiful to deliver the Eco-schools programme in Scotland; a grant of £300k is being made available in 2017-18. The Eco-schools programme supports schools across Scotland to engage with pupils on climate change and sustainability issues, increasing knowledge and engaging on actions that pupils can take around waste, water, food, transport and energy. In many schools, this programme is a natural context for learning both about and in the outdoor environment.

In addition, Education Scotland has produced a range of support material and curriculum resources to support outdoor learning. These resources can be found on the National Improvement Hub.