Early Learning and Childcare professionals to apply Spanish lessons on outdoor learning

Twenty of Aberdeen’s Early Leaning and Childcare (ELC) professionals have returned from a grant-funded study visit to Spain aimed at preparing them to provide outdoor learning for the city’s young children.

The practitioners flew out to Spain on 13 October for a the five day visit at Salmontes nursery 1032 metres (3386 feet) above sea level in the Sierra de Guadarrama, north of Madrid where they met their Spanish counterparts and shared in training designed specifically for the group by Professor Katia Hueso, the founder of the first outdoor nursery in Spain.

The staff at Salmontes, which translates as ‘little grasshoppers’ or ‘those that jump on mountains’ have many years of experience in innovative outdoor nursery settings and the Aberdeen contingent were able to discuss with them new, innovative philosophies and ideas together that can later be developed within Aberdeen as part the city’s expansion in ELC services.

Dr Elizabeth Henderson, ERASMUS+ Lead, Early Years Support Officer at Aberdeen City Council, said: “The aim of this ERASMUS+ study visit to Saltamontes Nursery in Spain was to enable a group of early years professionals to be fully immersed in the outdoor context and to see for themselves the value of working in a natural context with young children, including those with additional support needs.

“The group have returned ready to support each other and their colleagues to implement change across the city, providing nursery children with wider outdoor experiences”.

Cassie Amos, an Early Years Practitioner at Abbotswell Nursery, said: “I have regained my passion for outdoor learning and feel that through this trip I can now better understand the importance of a fully immersed outdoor setting, working in nature rather than with nature”.

The trip was fully grant-funded by ERASMUS+ which is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport. The grant secured by Aberdeen City Council’s Early Years Team provided the opportunity not only for the Spanish visit but also for a further group of ELC practitioners to visit an outdoor nursery in North Germany next year.

The Aberdeen group will share their experiences as part of a wider project called WIGLS (Working in Green Local Spaces), developed to support practitioners in outdoor practices across the city. In late autumn, 2020, they will also share their findings at a conference in Aberdeen.