By Rory Murphy
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie used a visit to Muddy Boots farm to announce a new outdoor experience guarantee for pupils that will see “every outdoor activity centre full year round” as part of the party’s Education Bounce Back plan.
Under Scottish Liberal Democrat proposals every pupil would be guaranteed a week at a residential outdoor learning centre during each phase of schooling.
Educational experts have hailed the benefits of outdoor learning, with a study from Yale University highlighting that “outdoor education experiences provide a change of pace and place, which can increase students’ enthusiasm and motivation to learn”.
Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart and party leader Willie Rennie.
Party leader Willie Rennie said: “We know how hard the last year has been for pupils. The answer to the disruption isn’t to make children sit at desks for longer. Instead, we need to make every hour spent learning count for more.
“Residential outdoor education engages children, boosts mental health and can prove life changing. But thousands have lost out on those experiences. Every residential outdoor activity centre should be full year-round once the pandemic permits.
“No child should miss out so there will be government support to help families who need it. It’s a new outdoor education guarantee for pupils and an important part of our plan to put recovery first for education.”
The party’s education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart said: “As we look towards recovery there is an opportunity to think differently about what schooling should look like.
“We are fortunate to have an array of outdoor learning opportunities on our doorstep, and many long-established institutions. When they were pushed to the brink by the pandemic, Scottish Liberal Democrats worked constructively with other parties to pull them back from the edge.
“The benefits of outdoor learning have been praised by teachers and experts. A week of outdoor learning can be transformational, especially for those who struggle in traditional school environments. It’s an opportunity to build confidence, learn new skills and connect with nature, all while unlocking mental health benefits that come with being outdoors.”