Aberdeen City Council’s two innovative outdoor learning settings for pre-school children were officially opened yesterday (Thursday 10 March) at the city’s much-loved Duthie and Hazlehead Parks to the delight of youngsters, families and officials alike.
The £1.4 million Duthie Park nursery and the £750k Hazlehead Park setting are part of the Council’s £23 million overall capital spend on the extended provision of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) across the city.
Councillor M Tauqeet Malik, Convener of the Education Operational Delivery Committee officially opened the Duthie Park site and was joined by Depute Provost, Councillor Jennifer Stewart in opening its Hazlehead counterpart.
The new nurseries make Aberdeen City Council the only local authority in Scotland to offer two outdoor learning provisions.
Councillor Malik said: “I am absolutely delighted to come along today and see at first hand the wonderful result of all the hard work that has gone into these settings.
“As well as providing marvellous facilities in tandem with our partners, we also benchmarked first class outdoor nurseries in Germany and Spain. The information gathered there has been vital in ensuring that our nurseries are truly innovative settings which recognise the importance of the natural environment, health and wellbeing in learning.”
The Depute Provost said: “It’s a real honour and a pleasure to be asked to come to Hazlehead today and officially open this wonderful facility which will be the focus for outdoor play and learning come rain or shine and a shelter for when the Scottish weather does its very worst!
“The pupils will be working with our Countryside Rangers, the Grove Plant Nursery and the Orchard Boys to create a green corridor for wildlife, as well as an orchard with each child planting a tree. Families, children and community members alike will be involved in taking forward the development of the enclosed garden area for everyone’s benefit.”
Councillor Claire Imrie, Vice-Convenor of the Education Operational Delivery Committee, said: “The importance and benefits of outdoor learning are well-documented, so it is really fantastic to see these projects come to fruition in Aberdeen.
“Our aim is to make these areas as green and enriching as possible, for our children, families, community members, local flora and fauna alike while enhancing the learning experience of our youngest children.”
Gordon Milne, Regional Managing Director, Robertson Construction Eastern, said: “As the delivery partner of choice for Aberdeen City Council’s Early Learning and Childcare capital project, we have been continuing our successful relationship with them to deliver quality facilities which further benefit local communities.
“The commitment from the Council to ensure excellent facilities for formative years education provides an excellent foundation for on-going learning across the estate.”
Louise Dodds, Client Relationship Manager, Procurement Hub, said: “Utilising the Procurement Hub Major Projects framework provided the flexibility and platform for Aberdeen City Council to utilise the local contractor of their choice for this ELC investment.
“We are delighted to be playing our part in bringing new facilities to Duthie and Hazlehead Parks further enhancing the areas for the benefit of the local communities.”
Managing Director at Halliday Fraser Munro, David Halliday said: “We are delighted to see the opening of the Early Learning and Childcare facilities in these two, much-loved, Aberdeen Parks.
“It has been a real privilege to collaborate with Aberdeen City Council who embraced the opportunities offered by learning through open play which Duthie Park and Hazlehead Park are first of its kind in Scotland. We can take real pride in these buildings, knowing that they are giving their children the very best possible start in life’.’
Children will be provided with clothing and packs to facilitate outdoor learning and will have their mealtimes outdoors as much as possible.
Stakeholders will help shape the creation of learning experiences which are likely to include a mud kitchen, gardening area, loose-parts play space, transient art hub and water play area.
The focus of the first term will be on supporting children to develop confidence in accessing the outdoor spaces and developing a sense of belonging in their surroundings.
The long-term aim will then be to have children lead which places they wish to explore each day and help staff organise offsite adventure. including packing lunches and cleaning up. Through these routines, children will develop a sense of belonging and responsibility to their place.
Outdoor hand wash stations with warm running water and eco-friendly, liquid soap will be provided and children will wash and dry their hands before and after meals and snack times.
Click here for more information on the Major Projects Framework 2.