Outdoor learning - Scottish primary teachers' perceptions of training and professional development

Mattu, Leanne (2014) Outdoor learning - Scottish primary teachers' perceptions of training and professional development. In: Scottish Educational Research Association 39th Annual Conference, 2014, 2014-11-19 - 2014-11-20, University of Edinburgh.

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Outdoor learning has long been an important feature of Scottish education, but the non-prescriptive nature of the curriculum has contributed to wide variations in schools’ provision of outdoor educational experiences (Ross et al., 2007). Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) further encourages the use of the outdoors as a context for learning, but still does not make this mandatory (Beames et al., 2009). However, changes to the Standards for Teacher Registration require all teachers to demonstrate use of the outdoors in their teaching (GTCS, 2012).As part of research exploring educational farm visits for primary school children, a survey of teachers in May 2013 included questions on teachers’ perceptions of knowledge and training on outdoor learning. The survey results informed a series of teacher interviews, during which these topics were also discussed.The survey results indicate that primary teachers’ perceptions of their own training vary widely, while they tend to feel that probationer teachers are not well informed on outdoor learning. The need for further training and CPD was a clear theme in the qualitative elements of the survey, and early interview findings suggest that learning informally, from colleagues sharing their own experiences, is an important feature of teachers’ professional development. Although “prospects for learning outdoors have rarely been better” than under CfE (Thorburn & Allison, 2013), survey findings indicate that previously identified issues around training and CPD (e.g. Nicol et al., 2007) seem to persist.