Support for Outdoor Learning
What type of activities can Rangers lead?
Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service can assist schools and other organised groups in delivering outdoor learning activities with the objective of increasing awareness, understanding, care and responsible use of Aberdeenshire’s natural and cultural heritage. If your class or group would like a Ranger to help you to understand more about your local environment, biodiversity, sustainability or conservation please get in touch with your Area Ranger. We seek to promote enjoyment and responsible use of the outdoors, so although there are activities we are unable to lead within our remit, we are happy to offer advice and guidance, or see the links at the bottom of the page.
Where can Ranger-led activities take place?
Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service can facilitate visits to many suitable locations according to the nature of activities. Where possible, we would encourage schools and groups to use local sites. However we can also visit schools, nurseries and other establishments for talks and activities within the premises or grounds.
When are Rangers available to lead activities?
We offer a year round service, although we recommend making contact with your Area Ranger as early as possible, with a selection of suitable dates, as we have heavy demand in May and June. We would encourage teachers and group leaders to consider other times of year – Rangers and the outdoors are here all year.
Booking your visit
To help us to plan your visit, you should have the following information to hand when you contact the Ranger:
- What would you like to achieve from your visit?
- What have you been studying prior to your visit?
- Where and approximately when would you like the visit to take place?
- What is the size and age range of your group?
- Do any children or adult helpers have special needs that we need to consider when planning activities?
Responsibilities during a visit
Outdoor learning can offer challenges and enjoyment not available in the confines of the indoors. It is important in an outdoor environment that responsibilities of the teacher/group leader and ranger are clearly understood.
The Ranger will:
- Send a booking form to the teacher/group leader.
- Carry out and send to the teacher/group leader a risk assessment for Ranger led activities, which will contain information on appropriate clothing and other equipment required for the visit.
- Provide necessary equipment for Ranger-led activities, other than what the group is asked to provide.
- Be the facilitator for the group.
The teacher/group leader will:
- Complete the booking form as required and return to the Ranger in advance of the visit.
- Ensure the group and adult helpers bring suitable clothing and other requested equipment for the activities.
- Be responsible for first aid.
- Ensure the group and adult helpers adhere to safety advice given by the Ranger.
- Be responsible for group discipline and behaviour.
- Ensure everyone takes away their own rubbish. Teachers/leaders are asked not to bring bin bags for their group, as we want children to learn to be responsible for appropriate disposal of their own rubbish instead of assuming adults will deal with it.
The Ranger may choose to revise the programme of activities if the group’s behaviour compromises safety, the enjoyment of other countryside users or is detrimental to the environment.
Higher and Further Education
The Ranger Service is available to higher and further education establishments where a relevant topic is being studied.
Aberdeenshire Council Ranger Service does not charge for outdoor learning sessions or visits.
CPD for teachers
Rangers are happy to share their skills and knowledge with teachers seeking to develop their own delivery of sustainable outdoor learning in their local environment. Please contact your Area Ranger to discuss. There is also lots of useful advice including links to other environmental and educational organisations’ resources on the Education Scotland website.
Grounds for Learning have some useful resources for those who are looking to improve their school grounds
For schools and groups wishing to take part in adventurous activities, please visit the Outdoor Learning Adventurous Activities pages. Walking in 300-600m terrain is included in this category. Some Area Rangers have a Low Hills in-house qualification to cover leading groups in such terrain.
For advice and guidance on Forest Schools please refer to the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) website.