Outdoor Learning

Developing life skills outside the classroom at ESMS

With the mountains and hills of Edinburgh and Scotland on our doorstep, it is no wonder there is a healthy spirit of ambition and adventure at ESMS.

Our outdoor learning programme helps to reverse today’s risk-based culture, providing children with challenges that build confidence and teach essential life skills. It is run by our own qualified staff who help give children the skills and confidence they need to tackle unfamiliar situations.

While children are busy having fun and problem solving, they are learning how to assess risk, make good decisions and work in a team.   They are also developing a love of the outdoors and close friendships that will last a lifetime.

ESMS has been running outdoor learning for 55 years.  It is an essential part of school life.

Our extensive programme of activities includes forest kindergarten, forest school, outdoor learning days, residential camps in both our Junior and Senior schools, Hillwalking, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Adventure and Winter Skills Clubs, the Combined Cadet Force, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and JASS, the Junior School equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh award.

One of the highlights of their school careers takes place in S3 when boys and girls in their shared House groups enjoy the 8 day Carbisdale experience with its variety of projects including art, canoeing, environmental studies, orienteering, technology, mountain-biking, two-day expeditions, history, hillwalking and geography. Based residentially in the heart of the Scottish Highlands the pupils challenge themselves physically and also learn an enormous amount about the natural history of Scotland and about themselves through individual initiative and working together to overcome challenges, all opportunities that will be fundamental to success in their adult lives.

Benefits of ESMS’s outdoor learning programme. 

Our extensive outdoor learning programme starts from Nursery. It helps children to:  

  • Appreciate and respect their natural environment
  • Develop a sense of physical and mental wellbeing 
  • Expand their personal capacity for resilience, self-confidence and patience  
  • Develop personal and practical skills including problem solving, taking initiative and communication with peers 
  • Explore meaningful decision making, consequence and risk 
  • Respond proactively to challenges 
  • Build relationships and create a deep sense of belonging within the school community  
  • Develop leadership skills 
  • Master practical outdoor skills including hill and mountain walking, navigation and orienteering, camping, canoeing, biking, bushcraft and climbing 

Find out more about Outdoor Learning in the Junior School 

Find out more about Outdoor Learning at The Mary Erskine School 

Find out more about Outdoor Learning at Stewart's Melville College