Early learning and childcare - Out to Play: guidance for out of school care providers - section 10

Supplementary chapter 10 should be used alongside the main Out to Play document to support the delivery of outdoor experiences in Out of School Care settings.

Finding The Right Outdoor Space

Start thinking about the outdoor space attached to your setting, e.g. a garden or school playground:

  • How do you currently use this space?
  • Are you making the most of it?
  • How could you improve your adjacent outdoor space?
  • Is it an inviting space where the children would enjoy playing?

Involving the children in your evaluation of the space is a great way to really understand their needs. What would they like space to do outdoors? What shouldn’t be there but is, or what isn’t there but should be? Supporting children through the design process of any new spaces will help it to be used and cared for in the future.

Also consider the walk from the school to your setting:

  • Do you have to go inside first?
  • Could you go straight to an outdoor space instead?

Most services will use the safest and most direct route to walk from school to the out of school care service.

However, there may be the opportunity to take a more ‘scenic’ route, or one that passes green spaces that would offer an outdoor play opportunity prior to arriving at your setting.

Once you are using your setting’s outdoor space more, you could look further afield:

  • Do you use outdoor space in your local surrounding area?
  • Is there a space outdoors that you can make your own?
  • Could you use local parks or woodlands?

See Section 4.1 Identifying your space for more guidance on finding new sites. Scotland’s Outdoor Learning Directory has a searchable map to help you find outdoor spaces near you.

Although parks usually have explicit invitations to play, woodlands have more natural affordances that may not be as obvious to children who have rarely visited them. As a result, it might be a good idea to take some resources with you to act as invitations to play in these natural spaces – in effect an outdoor kit bag. This could include things like rope, tarpaulins, mini spades, and bug hunting kits.

Case Study 1 - Using Private Land

When faced with issues using a community woodland area, Auchinairn Afterschool Care looked further afield and identified an area of private woodland that they thought would be ideal.

By engaging with the local landowner and farmer, they managed to secure permission to use the woodland, and were also able to improve access to it and space for parking.

Using the woodland benefited the local community as well as the children. Fly tipping, which had previously been an issue, was no longer a problem.

Things To Think About if you go further afield:

Collection – would parents/carers be happy to pick up from this location or would you need to return to your setting?

Clothing – can children change their clothes to keep their school clothes clean? (See Clothing and Kit later in this section for more information)

Consider exploring and planning for a range of suitable spaces in your local area. As a team, carry out risk assessments in order that practitioners feel confident in using these spaces. For example, local parks; a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), (often found within school grounds) which may be suitable for group activities and ball games. It can be valuable for children to feel ownership of the play space and take some responsibility for the environment.

Case Study 2 – Using a variety of outdoor spaces

Broxburn Family Centre use their own playground as well as a local park and a Multi User Games Area (MUGA) near one of the schools that they collect children from. They also have access to a woodland area during the Easter and summer holidays, which is 20 minutes away by minibus. A local farmer has given them permission to use this space.

If you go further afield, make sure you take account of children’s safety and have proper risk assessments and insurance in place.

You should also consider how travel time to and from the outdoor area might impact on the time spent outdoors. If you require parents or carers to collect their children from the site, how will this impact travel time?

These issues shouldn’t be seen as barriers, but as practical considerations which can be addressed through consultation with staff, children and parents.

For more information, see Appendix 4 of Out to Play and also Scottish Out of School Care Network (SOSCN).



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