Young People - Learning Outdoors and Developing Skills
Find facts, activities and inspiration to help you bring Scotland’s nature and landscapes to life for learners.
Our website can tell you vast amounts about Scotland’s plants and animals, landforms and geology, and habitats and ecosystems. Another big focus is climate change. For leaflets, posters and in-depth reports on varied topics, you can search our publications.
Free activities and resources for use with early years, primary and secondary students will interest and inspire learners both outdoors and in the classroom. We also list areas of our work that connect with Curriculum for Excellence and which could serve as the focus of secondary school projects.
You can use any of Scotland’s National Nature Reserves for outdoor learning – and some of them offer their own educational activities. Travel grants can help with the cost of getting to either of Scotland’s National Parks.
Visit our Gaelic page to access education resources in Gaelic.
For the full range of outdoor learning ideas, search Scotland’s Outdoor Learning Directory a portal to services supporting outdoor learning which are provided by Scottish organisations.
Our Teaching, learning and play research reports on the location, duration and focus of outdoor learning sessions, compares these with 2014 and 2006 and suggests a goal for outdoor learning time in primary schools. It makes key recommendations for increasing practitioner confidence and enhancing provision of outdoor learning in early learning and childcare settings and primary schools. It stresses that extra support is needed in areas of multiple deprivation and highlights the benefits of learning in green and natural places.
Young people and the outdoors
Participating in outdoor recreation is important as it can:
- help young people to develop new skills and confidence
- help young people to improve their physical and mental well-being
- improve the life chances of young people who are socially excluded
Engaging people in social and physical activity in the outdoors while they’re young may also generate a lasting interest or commitment into adult life.
Enjoying the outdoors
We did some research to better understand how to increase young people’s awareness of and participation in the outdoors.
We wanted to explore young people’s views and attitudes towards enjoying the outdoors and get an idea of the types of outdoor activities they like doing. Our research involved a representative sample of young people in Scotland aged 11 to 17.
The research found that today’s teenagers have a very healthy appetite for the outdoors. They enjoy taking part in a variety of activities and are keen to try new ones. To find out more, read our research report.
Learning through doing
Educational establishments and young people can get involved in a range of Citizen Science projects. We funded 84 projects that together engaged almost 100,000 young people in outdoor recreation, learning, volunteering and citizen science activities in 2015/16 alone. Many participants were from disadvantaged backgrounds or had other protected characteristics
Find out more
- Young people and the outdoors
- Podcast: Attracting young people to green jobs
- Attracting young talent to NatureScot
- Video Playlist: Early career advice for budding environmentalists
- Nature-based jobs and skills
- Working and volunteering with us
- Current vacancies
- Outdoor education in Scotland - A summary of recent research
- NatureScot Commissioned Report 225: Young people's interaction with natural heritage through outdoor learning
- NatureScot Commissioned Report 476: Teaching in nature
- NatureScot Research Report 1313 - Teaching, learning and play in the outdoors: a survey of provision in Scotland in 2022
- Enhancing biodiversity in your grounds