Out to Play - creating outdoor play experiences for children: practical guidance

Guidance and advice for early learning and childcare settings and practitioners on how to access outdoor spaces to create safe, nurturing and inspiring outdoor learning experiences.

Section 06: Using Your Space

Things to think about in this section

1. How will you support children to explore the natural environment in line with HSCS Standard 1.32? How will you enable children to choose to spend time alone (Standard 1.26)? How will you support learning (Standard 1.27)? Section 6.1 advises on integrating care play, fun and learning.

2. How will you help children not used to exploring outside to settle in? How will you plan and how will you record? How will you enable children to make their own choices about play and space (Standard 2.27)? See section 6.2 for settling into the outdoors.

3. How will you enable children to have enjoyable and unhurried experiences in snack and meal time (Standard 1.35)? What will you do to ensure children can make their own food and drink (Standard 1.38)? How will you ensure children have free access to drinking water at all times (Standard 1.39)? Section 6.3 covers food and drink.

4. What environmental factors will you need to consider? How can you use the environment as part of play and learning? Advice on natural hazards including insects, water and fire are covered in Section 6.4.

5. Is the space safe to use or can it be made safe? Do you and your staff understand how to balance risk and benefit? Do you need to put together a myth buster? How will you enable children to learn to understand and take safe risks? Section 6.5 helps you balance risk and benefits.

6. How will you help children and staff be confident in the dark? What kit might you need for safety? Will it be dark at drop-off and pick-up points? Section 6.6 looks at building confidence in the dark.

7. Do you know how germs spread? Do you know where to find out precautions beyond good hand hygiene and kitchen hygiene? Section 6.7 provides a link to useful guidance on infection control.

8. How will you store medication so that is out of reach and stored at the correct temperature? Section 6.8 has some advice.

9. How will you ensure your site is maintained? How will the site be maintained and by whom? Does it have a special status e.g. a historic site, a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), or anything else where a nursery may have a significant environmental impact? Your site needs to be robust enough to cope with children playing there regularly and frequently. See Section 6.9.

10. Advice on unforeseen incidents and emergencies is in Section 6.10.

11. Are your missing child procedures up-to-date? Is your safeguarding policy robust and appropriate for your setting and your children's personal plans? Section 6.11 advises on missing child procedures.

A key part of creating an outdoor setting is using the site to provide positive, fun, challenging, playful and enjoyable experiences for children. When you apply to the Care Inspectorate for a new registration or a variation, as part of the assessment process, you'll be asked how you plan to do this.

Every decision about using your space will affect the children's opportunities and experiences. For example, many outdoor spaces afford wider and deeper play opportunities supporting greater learning and curiosity.

Outdoor settings often have a number of different areas for different functions. These different functions include areas to allow children to enjoy quiet times, a space to play alone, or with smaller or larger groups.

Some larger settings use separate base camps with low numbers in each base.

Woodland Outdoor Kindergarten operate a fully outdoors nomadic service in two public parks in Glasgow. WOK are able to take up to 48 children per day at their west end kindergarten and up to 24 children per day at their west end kindergarten. Children spend the day in groups of 12.

"When we arrive at the woodland site, the children break into smaller groups and lead the way to each camp carrying their own ruck sacks. At camp, the staff carry out a risk assessment to ensure the children's safety–the children also have their own "risk assessment" that they use. We set up shelter (if required), our toilet and get camp just the way the children like it. The children are supervised as they play and engage with the environment in a way which they have chosen for themselves. Staff do not direct the learning activities – they stand back and watch to see what happens. Adult interventions and interactions are well measured to provide support if needed to ensure that children are empowered to be the motivators and directors of their own learning."

6.1 Integrating care, play, fun and learning

Outdoor settings offer an important provision in today's culture enabling children to explore the natural environment, climbing trees, building dens and engaging with natural materials. There are many government documents which provide useful background information, support positive care and provide guidance about play-based learning opportunities and experiences for children:

Providing a wide range of opportunities outdoors, exploring the natural environment, will make sure a child's individual learning needs are met in enjoyable ways.

In all settings, staff should use their professional judgement and choose the most suitable learning intention to ensure children are offered a rich, meaningful play-based learning experience. For a variety of reasons, it may be difficult for some children or parents to access the site or for children to be actively involved, such as when a child has particular needs. Staff should work closely with parents and children and liaise with any other relevant agencies to make this possible.

The outdoors provides many opportunities to improve literacy, numeracy, all other curricular areas and cross-cutting themes. My World Outdoors (Care Inspectorate 2016) has a wealth of good practice examples and suggestions for ways to support outdoor learning.

Hanscom, Angela J. 2016. Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. New Harbinger Publications.

Exploring the natural environment goes a long way in teaching sustainability if children are supported by adults who demonstrate care and who model environmental stewardship. Enjoying and learning about how to use their greenspace responsibly and safely, looking after the place and experiencing seasonal changes all help to encourage a connection between children and nature. It can actively encourage a child to consider other users and future generations.

How children perceive their environment is linked to the functionality of the features and availability and range or type of loose parts available. By frequently re-visiting the space, a child's connection is deepened because the child discovers and masters new skills and activities. In this process:

"the experiences become embodied as skills and understandings of the world that support ever-deepening feelings and relationships between child and surroundings."1

Children should be able to direct their own play from a wide range of suitable experiences and natural resources freely available to them outdoors. Staff should encourage children to be curious, imaginative and to be creative in their play-based learning using natural objects and loose part materials. Endless experimenting with loose parts has been shown to help children develop their sense of self-worth.

Consider whether or not to provide other non-natural resources and, if so, where these will be stored. For example, some core resources could include ropes and drawing materials including paint brushes and sheets, and child-friendly tools. You could also include a range of books, even compiling 'bags' of resources together to extend learning quickly. For example, bags for bird watching, bug hunting, literacy, numeracy and threading/sewing resources. You can use floor books to review and aid evaluation and reflection as illustrated by the approach used by Mindstretchers as a child-led methodology for planning and documentation.

6.2 Settling into the outdoors

While many children will feel entirely at home and excited about exploring outdoor environments, your outdoor setting may be some children's first experience of playing freely outside. As with all children, staff should handle the settling-in process with sensitivity, giving them the time and space to adjust at their own pace. For some, it just takes time to build up their confidence to enjoy the freedom an outdoor setting provides. For others it's the confidence to take on some of the new challenges. With the right support and handling, most children will settle in a short space of time. It helps to work with their parents, letting them also spend time in the setting so they can see what their child will experience.

Children and staff should plan opportunities together in a way that works for each setting. It's very important that children share their successes, achievements and progress.

'All planning must focus directly on enhancing the learning journey.'

Curriculum for Excellence; A Statement for Practitioners from HM Chief Inspector of Education

Many settings record planning, observations and assessment for each child in a written format, while some do this electronically. Consider the best way to do this in your outdoor setting, ensuring the information is accessible when outdoors. Ensuring practice is responding to child-initiated learning, planning in the moment is required; Moment by Moment Planning by Anna Ephgrave, an independent consultant, trainer and author specialising in early years, has some helpful information on this.

6.3 Food and water

Section 6 Things to Think About asks some broad questions about how you will enable children to have enjoyable and unhurried food and drink experiences; enable children to make their own food and drink; and ensure children have free access to drinking water at all times.

You will need to consider in detail:

  • How you will provide food.
  • How you will store food brought in by parents. And if parents don't take children directly to the site, how you will transport their food.
  • How you will keep food at the appropriate temperature.
  • If preparing or cooking food on site, how you will do this appropriately.
  • If using outside caterers, how it will be delivered. Where and how you will store and serve food.
  • How you will ensure children can access suitable drinking water at all times.
  • How you will make the environment suitable for eating.
  • How you will enable children to eat when they want to.
  • How staff will support children to eat.

Providing food

Providing food in an appropriate setting is an integral part of creating a caring learning environment. When children share a positive experience of eating and drinking, it helps develop a lifelong healthy relationship with food. They will see it as an enjoyable activity while developing an understanding of its role in long term health benefits within social and cultural contexts. Children should have a relaxed, quiet and peaceful space to enjoy food and drinks, where everyone can sit together. In an outdoor setting, this could to be outside or within your shelter.

The Care Inspectorate Hub has a link to Food Matters. Nurturing happy, healthy children which contains some useful practical advice.

Opportunities should be available for children to help prepare and serve lunches and snacks. Many settings provide a 'snack bar' system or a 'rolling' snack that allows children to choose when to have a snack, and whether to have it on their own or with others.

Providing food can include food cooked or prepared on site, using outside caterers as well as where parents provide a packed lunch and snacks.

Food safety

Bear in mind that when food is cooked or prepared on site, including snacks, your setting is likely to be considered a food business. This means that you need to follow and fulfil the Food Safety regulations for care settings from the local authority Environmental Health department. These are likely to be updated regularly so you should check with your local environmental health department regularly. The Food Standards Agency provides guidance on general food law and provides a gateway to councils.

Where food is brought to your setting or is being provided by you, there must be sufficient refrigerated storage to keep the food at a safe temperature. Further information is available in Space to Grow. You can ask your council's environmental health officers for advice on storage. Consider how to reduce the amount of litter and to dispose of it. Can you discourage parents from providing pre-packaged snacks and lunches perhaps listing alternatives?

Children should always have access to fresh drinking water to keep them hydrated.

If you're using a public facility, check that the drinking water is suitable. The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland has a Surveillance programme for Schools and Nurseries which provides some advice.

Options to consider:

  • On site cooking and preparation - if you are using a campfire for cooking, check you are following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code advice on lighting fires.
  • Parents providing all food and drinks.
  • Using outside caterers – how will they deliver the food? How will you ensure the correct temperatures for hot and cold foods once they arrive on site?
  • Snack bar or rolling snack. How will you do this in a nomadic setting or when offsite?
  • Children having lunch and snacks together. Do you need to provide insulated mats for them to sit on when it's cold, damp or wet?
  • Involving children in food preparation? What measures need to be put in place to ensure children have opportunities to grow, prepare and cook food and make drinks?

Health and Social Care Standards 1.35 I can enjoy unhurried snack and meal times in as relaxed an atmosphere as possible.

6.4 Environment

6.4.1 Encountering wildlife

Children are fascinated by wildlife. Chance encounters provide spontaneous moments to enjoy the presence of an animal or plant.

If children, staff, parents or carers express any worries or concerns, most can be mitigated with sensible measures, enabling everyone to respond not react. Often, fear turns into curiosity when a practitioner models a gentle, patient approach and shows genuine interest in the wildlife. It also helps to move beyond observing and naming creatures to a holistic approach where knowing and understanding a species involves the mind, body, emotion and spirit. Doing all this fosters a deeper appreciation of the need and contribution of every plant and animal within our world.

There are many different charities and organisations providing information and resources about our wildlife. Explore their virtual, online worlds to support real life experiences using technology such as cameras, tablets, etc.

6.4.2 Birds and animals

Look up the advice on caring for birds and mammals like hedgehogs and bats: feeding, nesting, how to avoid disturbing them and what to do in a range of incidents. The following organisations have plenty of advice:

If you find an injured bird or animal, phone your local Scottish SPCA or the animal helpline for advice. Dead animals should be reported to your local council.

The 2018 Care Inspectorate publication Animal Magic provides evidence, examples and case studies of the benefits to young children when they have frequent and regular opportunities to care for and interact with animals.

6.4.3 Protected species and wildlife crime

Certain species are protected by law. This means it can be illegal to kill, injure or capture birds or animals or to pick or damage certain wild plants. Before gaining permission to use land – even your own land – you must be aware of your legal responsibilities and follow any codes of practice. For more information, look at the Scottish Natural Heritage page on protected species.

Sadly, wildlife crimes are an ongoing concern. Your staff need to know how to report suspicious activity or the appearance of unfamiliar people. PAW Scotland have further advice online. You may want to invite your local police to come and talk to the children. Scottish Natural Heritage also provide information and links on wildlife crime and what you can do.

6.4.4 Creepy crawlies

Midges, ticks, spiders and flies

These creatures have an important role to play in many ecosystems and habitats. Whilst getting a small bite may be irritating, it's an opportunity to learn about the 'biting beastie' and how to dress and protect ourselves during certain seasons and places.

Very occasionally, a person reacts to a bite in an adverse way. When this happens, follow your first aid procedures. As with sunscreen, you need parental permission before applying suitable insect repellent for young children. If your setting is in a location where ticks are prevalent, discuss tick removal with parents and carers. They'll need to remember to check their child every day and to remove any ticks that are found using the correct technique. Further sources of advice including NHS Inform advice on ticks are in Appendix 5.

Wasps and bees

Wasps are mainly omnivorous and help plants by eating greenfly and other pests. Bees are essential for pollinating plants. Understanding why and how wasps and bees live and the reason for their stings is part of the learning process. For advice about wasps and bees and what to do with a sting, visit the NHS website.

6.4.5 Dogs

Dogs may often be encountered both on and off a lead, particularly if your outdoor site is in an area popular with dog walkers. Children and staff should follow the Blue Cross advice. Local authorities have animal or dog wardens for a variety of duties including enforcement and educating the public. They can advise and sometimes help on issues including dog fouling. For more information, look up the National Association of Dog Wardens.

6.4.6 Using fire

Fires are routinely used in many outdoor and traditional nurseries. Fire has many good uses within a nurturing outdoor setting:

  • A source of heat e.g. fire stones or a fire bowl outside or a woodburning stove in a shelter.
  • A way to cook, snack and enjoy freshly prepared food and warm drinks.
  • A space to sit around, stare into the flames and reflect, or gathering around for a story or song.

When using any naked flames make sure:

  • Staff are competent to undertake any proposed fire experience – this does not mean they have to have any specific qualification.
  • The experience is a meaningful learning opportunity with a clear rationale.
  • Children can practise the skills for keeping themselves safe and develop sustained, shared thinking around all that fire offers.
  • You think through the appropriateness of a particular method or fire equipment for any group. One-off experiences are not sufficient for children to explore fire in a holistic way.
  • Systems are in place to manage the risks taking into account the children's developmental understanding and physical abilities, as well as the site and environmental factors.
  • Follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code including:
    • gaining landowner's permission to have a small, supervised fire that's under control
    • adopting sustainable practices for gathering wood and using a stove rather than an open fire
    • observing fire bans
    • ensure you have appropriate and adequate insurance in place [see section 4.7]

Free download

Follow the fire guidance from the Outdoor and Woodland Learning Scotland website:

6.4.7 Playing near water

Playing near water can provide a range of additional opportunities for learning and encouraging curiosity whether that's near the sea, a loch a river, a stream or a small pond. As with all spaces, it is important to ensure this is approached in a safe manner and that risks and benefits are assessed. If you are in close proximity to water, you should download and follow the guidance in Group Safety at Water Margins.

6.4.8 Serious injuries

All nurseries whether indoors or outdoors must have a policy and practice in place for such emergencies and must communicate this to all parents. If you are in a remote location, you will need a system for providing your precise location to emergency services – if there's an accident, it's essential that you and your staff know how to provide a grid reference for wherever you are. You can use apps to provide this information, so long as you have Wi-Fi. Serious injuries are extremely rare. Where an injury requires more than basic first aid, emergency services should be called without delay.

6.4.9 Bites

On the rare occasion that a child or member of staff is bitten by an animal, standard first aid training should be applied; staff should ensure they have followed the procedures outlined in the most recent HPS Infection Control and Prevention Guidelines in Day Care and Childminding Settings.

6.4.10 Controlling invasive species

You need to be able to identify non-native invasive species on your land as you have a legal obligation to avoid them spreading into the wild. There are various sources of advice on identification and tackling invasive non-native species – the Scottish Government's Code of Practice and Scottish Natural Heritage's (SNH) relevant section are both good sources. More detailed information is included in Appendix 5.

If you want to use the discovery of such species as a learning opportunity, the SNH website has some examples of using citizen science outdoors to support teaching and learning – although focused on schools, this might provide some ideas of how children can participate in scientific observation. Similarly, Citizen Science is a charity whose aim is to involve anyone interested in science. The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) Network can be another good resource for engagement with nature.

6.4.11 Animal and plant diseases

Practitioners, and children, can keep any eye out for subtle changes in the flora and fauna that can indicate that something is amiss. Follow national reporting procedures and advice to minimise or prevent the spread of such diseases such as Ash Die Back. Contact Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland for these.

6.4.12 Foraging and fungi

Humans have foraged for thousands of years. Using plants for different purposes is a core part of being human. So teaching children to forage is an important part of our natural heritage and can help us identify with our ancestors and how they lived. Children need to see, feel, listen, smell and occasionally taste wild plants to connect with nature and learn that we are part of it.

From an early age, children can distinguish different types of plants and animals. They quickly learn that nettles are jaggy and brambles have thorns. Finding and eating food outside develops children's ability to recognise different plants, animals and fungi. It provides meaning and purpose to learning with, in, through and about nature that gathering and harvesting wild food is undertaken safely and should follow the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Muddy Faces, a website supporting outdoor play based learning and Forest Schools, has a useful section on foraging, bushcraft and outdoor cooking.

Parents and carers need to know that foraging takes place within your setting. Ensure they can ask questions and participate if they want to. Be aware of cultural differences towards foraging for food. If a child is prone to food allergies, you'll need to discuss and agree what is and isn't okay to eat, update the child's personal plan and the risk-benefit assessment for the activity with the agreed procedures and inform all staff.

Fungi grow all year round and can be prolific during autumn. Different types can be found everywhere: on playing fields, growing out of walls, living on rotting wood or developing brackets on certain trees. Feeling and smelling fungi are just as important as being able to see them.

Whilst it is not against the law to pick fungi, you should follow the Scottish Wild Mushroom Code. It's important to gather sustainably, leaving plenty for wildlife, particularly insects. Ingesting fungi is when the harm is done. No one should eat a mushroom unless they are 100% sure it is edible, fresh and washed under running water to remove any debris. If in doubt, don't eat it, especially as some harmful varieties can resemble some edible mushrooms. Remember to wash your hands after touching fungi or use a stick, mirror and magnifying glass to gently explore a discovered mushroom or toadstool.

More details are available in Appendix 5.

6.4.13 Potentially harmful plants

What makes a plant harmful? It's an ambiguous label which can lead to confusion. It depends on a person or animal's tolerance to a toxic chemical, the strength and quantity (affected by the time of year or the plant's maturity), the level of harm caused by contact, ingestion or use, and the numbers of people affected each year.

A common sense approach includes:

  • Teaching children not to eat anything outside unless a practitioner tells them it's safe. When gardening, use a visual label to segregate plants so that children know a plant is safe to taste.
  • Try and identify the plants in your site or public space – you can ask the landowner or local ranger. Your staff may need to increase their own knowledge to do this.
  • Do not assume all potentially harmful plants must be removed. They are an opportunity for children to learn how to be safe. Instead take simple measures such as:
    • Showing children and modelling how to accurately identify a plant
    • Telling stories and learning the folklore around plants including their benefit and need to exist
    • Strimming or mowing pathways through some areas to create access in the height of summer
    • Storing bulbs and seed packets out of reach of children
    • Wearing gloves when gardening
    • Always washing hands after gardening

Further links are included in Appendix 5.

6.5 Balancing risk

Play for children means taking risks, it's the opportunity to try, test and push themselves. Letting children learn through their experiences and setting those goals and challenges for themselves. It's the joy of learning that you can climb to the next branch on a tree or you can walk up the muddy slope or you have managed to move the water bucket.

Risk and learning through playful risk is key in developing resilience, and the learning and self-reliance that brings to a child in their formative years.

The Care Inspectorate supports a risk-benefit based approach.

'The Care Inspectorate supports care service providers taking a positive approach to risk in order to achieve the best outcomes for children. This means moving away from a traditional deficit model that takes a risk-averse approach, which can unnecessarily restrict children's experiences attending registered services, to a more holistic risk-benefit model. For example, we encourage services to use risk assessment to support children to enjoy potentially hazardous activities such as woodwork using real tools, exploring nature and playing in the mud and rain. We do not expect written risk assessments to be carried out for daily play activities.' (Care Inspectorate October 2015).

There are many myths about acceptable risk for children – meaning that the benefits can often be overlooked. The best way to view this is to assess all outdoor areas for risk-benefit to ensure they are 'as safe as necessary' rather than as safe as possible. ROSPA provides Advice on Outdoor Risks which encourages balancing of risks and benefits.

'It is the role of the provider and staff to work out the main physical and environmental risks and take steps to reduce them. You need to balance the risks against the benefits and make children the main focus of the risk-benefit assessment process.' My World Outdoors

Experiencing and learning how to assess risk helps children to grow in confidence, resilience and healthiness. It takes a knowledgeable member of staff to ensure a balanced approach to risk and managing children's abilities, so it is important to support staff to grow in their skills. Creative Star's Fairies – A Risk Based Assessment is a helpful tool for exploring risk and benefits as is Play Wales Making health and safety 'child's play'. Children should also be encouraged to manage risk appropriately, assessing it for themselves and having the freedom to make mistakes. This develops greater independence and confidence in communicating and working with others – all essential skills.

Dr Mariana Brussoni, an expert on risk in play based in Canada has developed a tool to support adults, primarily parents and caregivers, to gain confidence in enabling their children to engage in outdoor play.

'Managing risk is a balancing act between opportunities for learning and play, and safety – or put it another way, between risks and benefits'.

Gill, Tim 2016: Balancing risks and benefits in outdoor learning and play – Outdoor Classroom Day UK & Ireland

6.6 Building confidence in the dark

During winter months, children are likely to be outdoors in the dark. This offers many exciting opportunities for storytelling, games and exploring the environment in different conditions. Becoming confident in the dark at a young age should mitigate children developing a fear of the dark. Although Scotland has short days in the winter, especially further north, there are many ways to ensure your site is light enough for comfort and safety and instils a sense of magic and adventure.

Think about how to bring additional light into the space – torches, solar lamps, perhaps movement sensor lights, adding sparkly fairy lights to shelters. Consider how to help children feel safe, nurtured and supported as they manage any additional risks. Some children may need to build up their confidence. Strategies should be discussed with their parents and written into a child's personal plan. Staff should encourage children to think of fading light, dusk and darkness as routines within the day which offer different experiences.

As it's more difficult to see others who may access the site in the dark, particularly for areas around the entrance, consider the safety of children, staff and parents. If there's a built premises, consider using this for drop-offs and pick ups in the dark.

6.7 Infection control

As in all care settings good hand washing by practitioners and children is important as part of good infection control (see Section 5.5). Beyond ensuring good practice and suitable arrangements are in place for handwashing, you will need to ensure you follow the guidance for managing infection prevention and control - this is the same for indoor and outdoor settings. Your 'duty of care' to provide a safe environment for children at your setting includes infection prevention and control. This is extremely important for health, wellbeing and safety. Health Protection Scotland provides a resource document called called Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings (Day Care and Childminding Settings) which explains how infection spreads, describes infection control precautions beyond (and including) handwashing, food and kitchen hygiene and the early warning signs and symptoms of infection.

It is important that you have clear written procedures on infection control and understand the incubation and exclusion periods with various childhood illnesses.

6.8 Medication

Whether indoor or outdoor, children at your setting may need to take medicine. There are no different rules for this whether in an indoor or an outdoor setting although there may be some practical differences. You’re required to have clear procedures in place for the administration and storage of medicine which you will need to consider within your outdoor setting. Parents need to give written consent before staff can administer medication to children and the consent needs to be stored somewhere secure but accessible to staff – electronic records may be most appropriate when outdoors as long as access can be guaranteed. Staff need to know what medication should be given and are required to record when it is given. While staff should access the medicine, children should not – unless it’s an inhaler or other appropriate medication.

If using cool boxes, food storage and medicine storage should be kept separate to maintain a steady temperature for medicine – regular opening of boxes to access food causes temperatures to fluctuate. Belt packs or bum bags may be a useful way for staff to carry items which do not need to be kept at specific temperatures. Storing first aid kits or other items which need to be kept out of children’s reach can be done by hanging bags from higher branches.

6.9 Integrating site maintenance into your plans

As with any setting, to manage your outdoor setting effectively, you will need to put a system of checks and procedures in place. This ensures all jobs will be planned and budgeted for, and that the site and childcare offered has taken due account of the health, safety and wellbeing of the children, staff and visitors. It’s also easier to see which jobs can be undertaken with children as part of the ongoing life of the setting, and which require specialist input.

Make sure that supply staff and volunteers are thoroughly briefed about the routines and expectations they should follow, including principles and approaches to learning and play, and recording observations and information about the children. A list of possible tasks is included in Appendix 5.

Natural play spaces need regular checking and maintenance. For the ongoing maintenance of a public space, partner with the landowner and volunteer groups to care for the space. Partnership working is crucial to a successful outdoor setting and giving generously of time to undertake shared tasks can be much appreciated by local authorities. A list of ideas for partnership working are included in Appendix 5.

6.10 Responding to unforeseen incidents and emergencies

The approach to this should be the same as in any setting. It is important to have swift evacuation plans, particularly when sharing a public space with other users. Follow the sensible advice and recommended procedures from many local authority outdoor education teams in Going Out There – The National Framework for Off-site Visits.

6.11 Missing child procedures

As with incidents and emergencies, the approach here should be the same as in an indoor setting. All early learning and childcare providers must have missing child procedures in place and practise implementation whether indoors or outdoors. All early learning and childcare providers must have a robust safeguarding policy appropriate to the individual setting and children's Personal Plans will reflect any specific needs or risks.

6.12 Written information and notifications

Again the approach should be the same as in an indoor setting. As you'd expect, there are a variety of formal procedures that you're required to undertake as you would in an indoor setting. Your setting must maintain relevant records and provide notifications to the Care Inspectorate and other organisations.

A personal plan for each child: this is required in all settings, indoor and outdoor. It needs to be regularly updated and reviewed. The Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland Order 2011 (SSI 210/5) sets out the regulatory requirements.

Information about the children: this must be accessible to staff at all times. Some must be kept confidential and other notifications are required to be made immediately to the Care Inspectorate using the Care Inspectorate's eform system which you will have access to once your setting has been registered.

Insurance: insurance requirements are set out in section 4.7. You will need to consider how to make your insurance certificate available to parents/carers/other visitors

Policies and procedures: these must be developed to support your practice. When you apply for registration to the Care Inspectorate, you will be advised which core policies and procedures you'll need to submit. Additional policies and procedures may be requested by the Care Inspectorate during the registration process. Policies and procedures will continue to be developed once the service operates. Guidance for applicants is available on the Care Inspectorate website.

Evaluation: systems should be put in place to continually evaluate the setting. Effective systems help ensure good outcomes for children and continuous improvement. The Wellbeing SHANARRI indicators provide a good model for assessing and reporting on the positive impact outdoor experiences have on the overall outcomes for children. The views of children, carers and other stakeholders should be part of the evaluation, and you can use a wide range of approaches to gather ideas and the views. For example, using paper questionnaires may not be effective outdoors. The evaluation will inform your setting's development plan which should be available to parents and carers as well as local authorities.

Naturally, all providers must make sure that staff are confident and suitably qualified, skilled and experienced to work in the setting. (The Social Care and Social Work Improvements Scotland (Requirements for Care Services) Regulations 2011 (SSI 2011/210/9/15).

As with all health and social care services, staff in Care Inspectorate registered settings are required to register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and are expected to have, or commit to get, a qualification recognised as appropriate to their role. See SSSC for guidance.

For outdoor settings, this doesn't mean staff must have a specific outdoor qualification however, you must be assured of their competence to deliver a high-quality outdoor experience. You should put plans in place for staff to attend specific outdoor training where this is necessary. In most outdoor settings, it is unlikely that no staff will have relevant outdoor qualifications and/or experience.


Email: outdoorelc@gov.scot

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