Merchiston Castle holds outdoor music lessons
(Photo Gareth Easton)
Merchiston Castle holds outdoor music lessons (Photo Gareth Easton)

Merchiston Castle pupils take lessons outdoors

Junior pupils at Merchiston Castle swapped their desks for learning in the great outdoors to support National Outdoor Classroom day, an initiative the school promotes regularly.

The leading independent school for boys based near Edinburgh, which has 440 boarder and day pupils combined, promotes an array of wellbeing initiatives across its academic curriculum as it understands the intrinsic link between the two.

National Outdoor Classroom Day encourages teachers to adapt and deliver lessons outside for the day to promote the positive impacts it is reported to have, which include improved behaviour and increased engagement from pupils. This extends to teachers reporting increased creativity and enhanced problem solving from outdoor sessions, which supports teaching critical life-skills.

Merchiston Castle pupils had a fully immersive outdoor learning day and enjoyed a programme of lessons which included:

  • An outdoor percussion and drama sessions in place of a traditional music lessons
  • A science lesson will be delivered in the garden where the boys made rockets
  • Weekly library time was replaced with an outdoor creative storytelling session
  • A ‘Kinder Kitchen’ initiative where boys enjoyed outdoor baking using ingredients foraged and produced on-site

Alexandra Torrance, lead primary teacher at Merchiston Castle, said: “We are incredibly lucky at Merchiston Castle to be able to use the outdoors on a daily basis in order to foster skills and enhance boys’ learning.

‘We are able to incorporate outdoor learning into a wide range of our lessons on a daily basis, such as foraging and collect eggs for baking in our Kinder Kitchen, incorporating nature walks into descriptive writing units, collecting autumnal leaves for art, and performing drama under the spectacular tree canopy.

Merchiston Castle holds outdoor music lessons
(Photo Gareth Easton)

‘On a weekly basis throughout term we visit a local farm, Carsewell, to learn about where our food comes from and how we can make a positive impact on the environment by thinking about food waste and food miles.’

Niamh Waldron, head of juniors at Merchiston, said: ‘We are embracing the opportunity of a day of outdoor learning, but this is not an unusual day for us. Outdoor learning helps to make lessons memorable, enhances personal and social skills, improves physical health, improves wellbeing, develops inquisitive thinking and problem solving, develops resilience, an appreciation for nature and a lifelong love of the outdoors.

‘On Outdoor Classroom Day, the boys performed outdoors in drama, walked to Redford Barracks to learn about the Scottish Poppies, incorporated nature into science lessons and foraged to prepare food.’

Founded in 1828 in Edinburgh by Charles Chalmers, Merchiston Castle School is now the only all boys independent school in Scotland. It aspires to deliver high-quality education that is supported by a strong community spirit. Merchiston Castle provides one of the most comprehensive sport offerings in Scotland with opportunities for pupils to develop in many sports including rugby, cricket, football, fives, athletics, squash, swimming, tennis, shooting, skiing, hockey, golf and basketball.

The school also offers a wide range of co-curricular activities including music, drama, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Combined Cadet Force, Scottish country dancing and business and entrepreneurial activities.

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