Outdoor Learning

Developing new skills through outdoor learning at ESMS

Young people no longer have the same freedom to experience the outdoors as their parents and grandparents.  The way they interact and explore the world around them is heavily managed and protected, giving them less opportunity to make their own choices and learn through their own mistakes. This risk-averse approach makes it harder to develop resilience and independence.  Outdoor learning helps to reverse this culture, giving children the opportunity to take on challenges and develop life skills. 

In a world where screens and social media are ever present, outdoor learning also helps to connect children with the natural world around them, developing their curiosity and a sense of responsibility for their environment. 

ESMS has been running outdoor learning for 55 years.  It is an essential part of school life.

Our extensive programme includes forest kindergarten, forest school, residential camps in both our Junior and Senior schools, outdoor learning days and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. 

Our trained staff give children the skills and confidence they need to face unfamiliar situations, assess risk and make good decisions. While children are busy having fun and problem solving, they are improving their physical health and mental wellbeing and developing essential life skills. 

Our children relish the opportunities and thrive on the challenges that are presented to them through outdoor learning at ESMS. We believe that the co-curricular and extracurricular programme we provide helps the children to become more confident and to develop skills, interests and friendships that last a life time.

Find out more about our Outdoor Learning programme and meet Dave Ogilvie, our Outdoor Learning Manager, in the video below.

One of the highlights of their school careers takes place in S3 when boys and girls in their shared House groups enjoy the 8 day Carbisdale experience with its variety of projects including art, canoeing, environmental studies, orienteering, technology, mountain-biking, two-day expeditions, history, hillwalking and geography. Based residentially in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, the pupils challenge themselves physically and also learn an enormous amount about the natural history of Scotland and about themselves through individual initiative and working together to overcome challenges . These are all opportunities that will be fundamental to success in their adult lives.

View a video with highlights from a recent Carbisdale trip below.

Benefits of ESMS’s outdoor learning programme 

Our extensive outdoor learning programme starts from Nursery and helps children to:  

  • Appreciate and respect their natural environment
  • Develop a sense of physical and mental wellbeing 
  • Expand their personal capacity for resilience, self-confidence and patience  
  • Develop personal and practical skills including problem solving, taking initiative and communication with peers 
  • Explore meaningful decision making, consequence and risk 
  • Respond proactively to challenges 
  • Build relationships and create a deep sense of belonging within the school community  
  • Develop leadership skills 
  • Master practical outdoor skills including hill and mountain walking, navigation and orienteering, camping, canoeing, biking, bushcraft and climbing