Topic outline

  • Outdoor Learning

    Back to Social & Independent Living Skills

    Teacher and pupil with VI wheel a wheelbarrow on an allotment


    Education Scotland states that:
    “The journey through education for any child in Scotland must include opportunities for a series of planned, quality outdoor learning experiences.”

    This includes young people with vision impairment, for whom, it is even more vital to experience and explore the real world around them.

    For many individuals the traditional methods of teaching can be challenging but as a very active way of engaging with the curriculum, Outdoor Learning motivates and inspires young people to develop confidence within their physical environment, abilities and skills. It also allows teachers a very flexible way of planning using the core values of curriculum design and helps students achieve the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence.


    Besides the many soft skills that Outdoor Learning allows young people to develop there are many practical skills, and qualifications that can be achieved. Our young people have had the opportunity to cover habilitation, Science, Literacy, Art and CDT and Health and Wellbeing outcomes through the project we are currently working on. With Senior Phase pupils we are also working towards an SQA unit Independent Living Skills: Taking Part in Outdoor Activities at National 2 level.


    Safety is paramount when introducing young people to the outdoors and can be a daunting prospect when faced with the additional challenge of a sight impairment. However, with the right support and planning Outdoor Learning can be a fun and accessible way of accessing the curriculum. (see Appendix 1)

    Outdoor Learning programme - SQA National 2 Independent Living Skills: Taking Part in Outdoor Activities

    • Week 1

      Two female teachers demonstrate using a clamp to hold a stick in place to a female pupil with vision impairment A female teacher holds a clamp while a male pupil with vision impairment explores it with their hand A female teacher helps a male pupil with vision impairment test out a stick whittled for marshmallow toasting

      Introduction of song signifier with Canaan Barrie signs (Appendix 2)

      Introduction and discussion of topic (Bonfire Night) and what is required for the event

      Collect a number of materials for next week’s burning experiment in local area. Discuss with pupils properties of materials (big/small, tall/short, rough/smooth etc.)

      Whittle sticks for marshmallow toasting: Discuss safety implications, exploration of tools and whittling

      • Week 2

        A teacher uses the hands over technique to aid a young pupil with vision impairment burn material on a lit Bunsen burner with tongs A teacher uses the hands over technique to aid an older pupil with vision impairment burn material on a lit Bunsen burner with tongs.

        Song signifier

        Begin reflective poem - each verse reflecting on previous week (see Appendix 3 for example)

        Burning experiment - discuss safety rules of burning in the lab, allow each young person to burn different materials and discuss how useful they will be to the fire

        • Week 3

          Song signifier

          Reflective poem

          Exploration of fire pit

          Discussion of how to create fire. MDVI (Multiple Disabilities with Vision Impairment) to switch questions and answers

          Explore fire models and practice creating these in the fire pit

          Pupils who are MDVI will switch electric fire

          • Week 4

            A teacher helps a smiling pupil with vision impairment toast a marshallow over a barbecue, while other pupils and teachers watch and listen

            Song signifier

            Reflective poem

            Build fire and practice cooking food

            Create invites for event using leave rubbing

            • Week 5

              A group of teachers and pupils with vision impairment, and complex needs, construct a tent in the school grounds

              Song signifier

              Reflective poem

              Explore the meaning of shelter and different forms of shelter

              Construct a tent and explore how accessible this is for the young people and a large group. Pupils who are MDVI will switch visual and audio instructions

              Explore building shelters from a range of materials including willow, ground sheets, rope, wooden planks etc.

              • Week 6

                Song signifier

                Reflective poem

                Create outdoor musical instruments and prepare performance pieces; poem, song and sensory story about fire

                • Week 7

                  Royal Blind staff and students, wrapped up warm, gather around a barbecue at bonfire event

                  Bonfire event

                  • Appendices