Talks to introduce outdoor nursery to park in Aberdeen

An outdoor nursery could be introduced to a park in Aberdeen, inspired by a Scandinavian approach to education.

A pilot project has been proposed by Aberdeen City Council which would see Duthie Park used as the base for a new early years facility catering for children aged from two to five.

The practice follows the principle that children’s education should feature a combination of more traditional nursery provision and extended outdoor learning.

There are currently outdoor nurseries across Scotland including in Glasgow, Fife and Perthshire, as well as the opening of the Mucky Boots Nature Kindergarten in Aberdeenshire last year.

The plans are expected to be brought before Aberdeen City Council elected members for consideration this year.

The co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, Jenny Laing said: “The aim of the outdoor project is to strengthen wellbeing and provide conditions that will achieve better outcomes for the city’s youngest children, recognising that over the years lifestyles have become more sedentary and the traditional benefits of the outdoor environment are not always being maximised.

“Research shows that higher levels of active play are associated with higher academic attainment – but just as importantly helps improve motor skills and has great advantages in terms of physical and mental health, which are so important in terms of giving children the best possible start in life.”

The plan is part of a package being developed as the council works towards meeting the entitlement to 1,140 hours annually of early learning and childcare for each child in Scotland by 2020.

Investment in new nursery facilities in areas including Tillydrone, Torry and Northfield, is included in the strategy and opportunities to utilise school buildings outside of core hours will also be embraced.

The organisation, Inspiring Scotland, has previously worked with local authorities across the country to enhance and increase outdoor play provision for children.

Chief executive Celia Tennant welcomed the council’s move to introduce the facility.

She said: “Being outdoors, being active and having fun is so important for children’s health and wellbeing, and their learning and development.

“Providing our young children with the opportunity to explore the outdoors within their own communities is a fantastic way both to let their imaginations run free in contact with nature and to anchor them with an appreciation and sense of ownership of the natural greenspaces around them.

“Our work establishing outdoor nurseries with Glasgow City Council and local partners is proof that growing up in a city should be no barrier to playing, exploring and learning outdoors.”

Inspiring Scotland’s Thrive Outdoors team is funded by Scottish Government to support eight local authorities to enhance and increase their outdoor play provision to help them meet the Scottish Government commitment to a near doubling of funded hours of early learning and childcare.

Ms Tennant added: “While Aberdeen is not one of the eight councils, we have met officials and visited some of their proposed sites and we are delighted to hear that plans for an outdoor nursery in Duthie Park have come to fruition – we wish the nursery every success in future.”

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