Early learning and childcare - Out to Play: guidance for practitioners supporting children with additional support needs - section 11

Supplementary guidance (section 11) should be used alongside the main Out to Play document to support the delivery of outdoor experiences for children in early learning and childcare (ELC) with additional support needs.


This section builds on Out to Play with advice for supporting children with additional support needs in your setting. This section is not intended to standalone, but should be read in conjunction with the main document.

Early Learning and Childcare (ELC), Childminding and Out of School Care (OOSC) practitioners respond to every child in unique and respectful ways to build strong relationships with them. We use knowledge of individual children’s strengths, starting with what they can do rather than what they can’t do, and build on all the steps of progress.

All settings can expect to include children with additional needs some, or all, of the time. Needs change not only as children grow and develop, but also through life events or changes in family circumstances, and additional support needs may or may not be diagnosed or labelled. Because of all these factors, we need to be prepared, adaptable and responsive.

Playing outside is important for all children and is equally important for children with additional support needs. This section provides more information to support the inclusion of children with additional support needs in your setting.

Who is this section for?

This section complements Out to Play and aims to provide practical guidance for:

  • people supporting children with additional support needs in their ELC or OOSC settings
  • managers and teams planning and preparing their setting to be inclusive for children and families from the beginning of the placement.

Advice is offered at the level of ‘universal support’, which Education Scotland describes as starting with the ethos, climate and relationships within every learning environment, and in line with the Health and Social Care Standards:

1.2 My human rights are protected and promoted and I experience no discrimination.

1.6 I get the most out of life because the people and organisation who support and care for me have an enabling attitude and believe in my potential.

What are the aims of the section?

This section aims to:

  • provide practical guidance for creating inclusive outdoor playing and learning experiences
  • enhance staff’s, carers’ and volunteers’ confidence to include children with additional support needs in playing outside
  • help children to get outside to play more.

What do we mean by outdoor space?

In this section we have used the term outdoor space to cover all outdoor environments in which you support children’s playing and learning. We recognise this varies enormously including everything from a domestic back garden, the outdoor space of an early learning and childcare setting, a school playground to a park, a beach, a green space or a fully outdoors setting. Few spaces can claim to be completely natural, but this section assumes outdoor spaces for playing and learning have natural features for children to engage with.


Email: outdoorelc@gov.scot

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