Argyll OWL takes flight


Teachers Iona MacKinnon and Julie Watson - taking part in the Chocolate Geology Workshop


A new look to outdoor learning programmes in Argyll was launched last week (Saturday 19th Sept) at the tenth birthday celebrations of work to promote woodlands as classrooms.

Fifty teachers and outdoor learning practitioners took part in the launch of Argyll's Outdoor & Woodland Learning Group (OWL), formerly known as the North & West Argyll Forest Education Initiative.

Bonnie Maggio - Forestry Commission Scotland /Outdoor & Woodland Learning (OWL) Scotland, said;

“Learning outdoors, be in in playgrounds, towns, cities, parks or our stunning natural environments, actively engages young people and connects their broader learning with the world around them. “The Argyll group has played a really important part in successfully embedding outdoor learning in schools and adult education.

“The people involved are all passionate and dedicated professionals who have delivered Forest School training, outdoor learning projects and a host of professional development opportunities.

“Refreshing the approach will help boost them in their efforts to take this much further and, with the help of the fantastic array of online OWL resources, introduce many more learners to our amazing outdoor classrooms.”

As well as congratulating the group on its work to date, key note speaker, Mike Russell MSP, challenged the audience to take advantage of Argyll’s spectacular environment to further foster young people’s interest in rural skills in ways that would encouraging them to work and live in the area.

Anne Paterson, Education Manager, Argyll & Bute Council and Chair of the Argyll OWLS group, said;

“Over the past 10 years we have seen outdoor learning become an essential area of the curriculum and I am strongly committed to driving forward the link between learning and our environment.

“I have witnessed its most amazing effects on the self -esteem, confidence and well- being of our young people, which in turn has helped raise attainment and achievement levels.

“This surely is what we want for young people and I am proud to be involved with so many people who are committed to using the outdoors in their daily work with our young people.”

Displays from schools and projects across Argyll were on show to inspire everyone who attended and a series of workshops aimed to encourage people to take up – or take further – teaching outdoors. Teachers who took part in the latest programme helped to deliver a workshop, using their own experience to show what could be achieved.

The new OWLS Argyll Group will be looking at setting up a more localised series of networks to help support those delivering outdoor learning and are keen to hear from anyone with an interest in joining.

OWL Scotland is dedicated to increasing the use of Scotland's outdoor environments for learning and supports outdoor and woodland learning for local OWL groups through the provision of grants, resources, advice, training and networking opportunities. More information and contacts from the website

Notes to editors

  1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment and Forestry Directorate.
  2. Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.
  3. OWL Scotland is supported by Forestry Commission Scotland and has evolved out of the Forest Education Initiative (FEI) which has run successfully for over 20 years.
  4. Tha Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba na phàirt de Bhuidheann-Stiùiridh na h-Àrainneachd is Coilltearachd aig Riaghaltas na h-Alba. Tha e an urra ri riaghladh agus cumail maoineachadh is comhairle ri coilltearachd ann an Alba. Tha Iomairt Choilltean na h-Alba na fo-bhuidheann aig Coimisean na Coilltearachd Alba a tha a’ ruith Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta.
  5. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office, 0300 067 6507 / 07785 527590 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.