Playing and learning outdoors will be a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland, following a national commitment from 50 people and organisations across the country.

Alongside the Scottish Government, Inspiring Scotland and greenspace scotland, bodies as diverse as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Glasgow Science Centre, as well as education groups, academics and NHS Health Scotland have signed up to a national Position Statement to make playing and learning outdoors an everyday activity for Scotland’s children and young people.

The Position Statement was officially launched by Children’s Minister Maree Todd alongside Inspiring Scotland and representatives from health, education and the environment at the Muddy Buddies outdoor nursery in Drumchapel, which is run as a partnership between several local nurseries, Glasgow City Council and Inspiring Scotland.

The statement asserts the health, wellbeing and educational benefits of playing and learning outdoors and commits signatories to help widen access to natural and communal spaces and to enriching urban spaces for children and families to play in.

Ms Todd said:

“We know the benefits playing outdoors delivers for children in terms of improved health and wellbeing, building resilience and connecting with nature. Scotland has a wealth of great outdoor space, including in the heart of our cities, and the expansion of early learning and childcare provides us with an opportunity to increase the amount of time children spend playing in these wonderful spaces. Muddy Buddies is a perfect example of the collaborative working and commitment between partners that the position statement promotes, all delivering a high-quality outdoor experience for the children involved.”

The Position Statement draws on the input and expertise of many of the signatories who met in the summer to form Scotland’s Outdoor Play and Learning Coalition.

The Coalition was created following a meeting organised by Inspiring Scotland early in the year to bring together leaders in government, health, education and the environment to address growing concerns about childhood health and wellbeing.

Inspiring Scotland has been working to promote and deliver outdoor play for children since 2010 and works in partnership with charities, local authorities and Scottish Government to deliver play in primary schools and communities. Earlier this year, Scottish Government announced funding for Inspiring Scotland to develop outdoor nurseries in eight local authorities as part of its expansion of free childcare hours.

Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland, said:

“We want all Scotland’s children to thrive and we believe passionately that being outdoors, being active, playing and having fun is one way we can do that. We know that outdoor play and play-based learning has great outcomes for children; improved physical activity leads to better health and wellbeing but play is also where children learn, make friends, share and cooperate, take risks, test boundaries, think creatively and problem-solve. There are also wider benefits for society – a generation of children that grow up, not just familiar with the outdoors but passionate about it, a generation that love and understand the world around them is a generation that will protect and care for it. If we want a future at all, we need that to be the case.”

Research from around the world demonstrates the enormous benefits to children’s health, wellbeing and development of getting outside to play and the right to play is enshrined in United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child.

View the Position Statement