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Scottish education charity gears up for busy year of outdoor learning

As Scottish school pupils settle back into their classrooms, a leading environmental education charity is gearing up to inspire thousands of youngsters with unforgettable outdoor experiences.

The Field Studies Council runs a range of environmental courses for primary and secondary children from its Millport residential centre on the Isle of Cumbrae and each year it welcomes thousands of visitors.

And, with policies such as the Curriculum for Excellence and Learning for Sustainability continuing to drive Scottish education, the charity says the current academic year will be no different as teachers strive to provide a varied mix of experiences and opportunities for their pupils.

Charity Chief Executive Mark Castle, who was raised in Scotland and remembers fondly his first school trip to the Mull of Galloway, said the first schools would be arriving on site in September so staff were extremely busy putting the final touches to their itineraries.

“We are very much looking forward to the arrival of our first visitors this academic year and we hope that some of the nice weather we’ve seen over the last few months continues,” he said.

“Our staff are working hard to make sure everything is ready for their arrival and with a stream of bookings already in the diary, we’re pretty certain it’s going to be another very busy term.

“It really is magnificent to be able to welcome so many young learners to this very special location with its rich abundance of wildlife and marine species right on the doorstep.

“Teachers often tell us that when pupils leave the four walls of their classroom and come here to Millport that they come alive. They say being outside and experiencing nature first-hand enables them to unearth new skills, develop their confidence and connect with their friends and teachers in different ways.

“We know from our experience that academically, there are also huge benefits to learning outdoors. There is not a part of the Curriculum for Excellence that cannot be enriched by connecting to nature and our tutors at Millport work closely with all our visiting teachers to ensure courses are tailored to meet the needs of their pupils.”

Last year, after reopening following the pandemic and easing of coronavirus restrictions, staff at Millport welcomed in excess of 3,000 students to Millport.

Those visiting explored first-hand the rocky coastal shores which surround the centre and learned about the rich marine biodiversity by undertaking a range of activities from rock-pooling to species identification.

Some were also fortunate to take a trip out into the Firth of Clyde on board the centre’s very own revamped marine research vessel, which is often used for surveying and scientific sampling.

Mr Castle added: “Last year’s residential trips provided the ultimate tonic for students recovering from the social, mental and academic impact of the pandemic. They gave youngsters time to improve their health and wellbeing, time to re-engage with their classmates and teachers but most of all, they helped to reignite their passion for learning.”

FSC Millport caters for residential visits and day trips for all ages, primary through to university level.

It also hosts courses for families and natural history enthusiasts.

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FSC Millport gets ready to welcome Scottish school children for a year of outdoor learning and adventures

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