Taking Learning Outdoors was an amazing experience covering so many aspects of teaching and learning that I can use for the children, staff and me!  A truly beautiful setting with delightful hosts and trainers, that will leave you inspired for years to come.

Anna, Scotland
I spent five days completing the residential part of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award with Ally and Irene in Aviemore. It was an amazing experience and a great chance to have loads have fun and meet new people! It wouldn’t be DofE without some challenges, and there were certainly plenty of them, whether it was completing complicated puzzles or having to build a complex structure without talking to your team or climbing on the high wire. An all round exciting and stunning experience! Thanks Ally and Irene.

Florence, Edinburgh
D of E Gold Residential

At first I was quite nervous about going on my Gold Residential as I wasn't sure what to expect and what everybody would be like. It turned out however to be one of the best experiences I've had. It was easy to make friends and Ally and Irene were so friendly, laid back and easy to get along with which was really good! I learnt alot about myself while I was away and I have gained alot of confidence (and friends) from it. The activities we did were all challenging to a certain level which created a sense of self and group achievement. Everything we did was alot of fun! Thanks to Ally Irene (and Adrian) for a brilliant 5 days, I will highly recommend it!

Emma S, Gold participant
Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential

I really enjoyed the whole experience, it was great to meet new people and then have to work as a team. The activities really challenged us as a team and gave very good insight as to how to be a good leader. Ally and Irene were brilliant course leaders. I had a great time and made some good friends and the trip was worth it. Thank you.

Arthur Jones
Gold Residential

I really enjoyed meeting new people and working together as a team. Taking part in the challenges and problem solving was quite demanding but great fun. I made some friends, Ally and Irene were fantastic and whole experience was really worthwhile. Thank you.

Joe Pirnie, Duke of Edinbrugh Award participant.
Taking Learning Outdoors - Italy, June 2011

The equivalent hours in CPD courses wouldn't come close to equalling the learning experience that taking part in Taking Learning Outdoors was. Spending a week in the granduer and peace of an Italian mountain valley, in the company of passionate teachers from different nations, guided by enthusiastic leaders, challenged daily to step out of our comfort zone gave me impacted upon me in an immeasurable way. Immeasurable because I didn't simply gain things that can be quantified, like new teaching strategies. I underwent an intensive course of professional and personal development.

In teaching we talk about being reflective, using real-life contexts, participating in group work, and so on. TLO had all of these things in abundance. I was thrust into a community of peers where I developed my ability to participate in team, be supportive, trusting, patient, listening and thinking. Each day's activity encouraged a natural reflectiveness that left me feeling refreshed as a teacher and a person. I was engaged mentally, phsyically and emotionally in everything we did. That's what we want for our children, isn't it?

I left Italy smiling because I'd relished facing challenges as a member of a group who trusted and cared about one another; whose individual successes and struggles were everyone's successes and struggles. I also left with tears because I was overwhelmed by how true that last statement was. I won't be looking for tears neccesarily, but I'd love to see something that communal spirit reflected in my class next session because it's essential to learning as well as life after school.

Thanks Ally and Irene (and Gabriella because the food was amazing!)

Ross, Scotland
Taking Learning Outdoors, Italy 2011

Schilpario was a stunning location to experience a week full of physical and mental challenges. It was inspirational and something which every teacher should take the opportunity to apply for. A chance to meet people from around the world and share the common goal of using the beauty of the outdoors to educate and develop the young people we work with through experiential learning.

Graeme, Scotland
Taking Learning Outdoors, Italy June 2011

Irene and Ally, I cannot thank you enough for the opportunities I experienced in Schilpario.  It not only redirected and refocused my approaches to teaching and the children we teach, but allowed me to apply these approaches to various other aspects of my life in general.  The content of the course was immense fun with as much challenge as we cared to embrace in a beautiful setting with an amazing group of people.  The whole experiential learning and especially the reflective practises have reinforced some of my own values and believes and opened up new avenues to explore.

A little trepidation moved on to a variety of challenges and great  fun to a huge impact overall.

Thank you very much for doing it sooo well.

Sheila, Scotland
Taking Learning Outdoors - Italy June 2011

What a fantastic experience!
I applied to go on this course as I have always been interested in experiential learning and theories associated and when I saw this course, it seemed very fitting. I came on the course, not knowing what to expect...and I definitely did not expect the experiences and the knowledge I have gained from the week.

At first, before going, my main concern was, what am I going to take to wear, will the others like me, what will it be like, will I manage...
then as soon as we arrived at the refugio with fellow teachers and Irene and Ally, my worries instantly disappeared. As the week progressed, the issues I had previous to coming, seemed so insignificant and silly. The environment we were in was inspirational.

I gained not only a knowledge of experiential and outdoor learning, but knowledge of many aspects about myself, knowledge of the education systems of other countries, knowledge about the stunning environment in which the course took place and knowledge of course, about how my teaching would benefit and what changes I was going to take back with me.

This course taught me so much in such a short time and on so many different levels. I would never have imagined what an impact it would have. I met many great people and made fantastic friends. Irene and Ally were excellent facilitators, so easy going, and full of interesting experiences and knowledge which they passed on in exciting and engaging ways.

Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience.

Laura, Scotland
Taking Learning Outdoors, Italy

What can I say?

Spending one week in Italy together with 20 other teachers from all over Europe - in our Italian outdoor classroom, was for me "food for the soul" as we say in Norway. Every task given to us made me reflect on so many different levels: me as a teacher, me as a member of a group, me as a friend, me being patient - and inpatient, me in the stunning nature, me not understanding the task given to us, me feeling so happy when I master the different tasks - and even more happy when my friends from Europe  master new things, cooperating, laughing, crying (happy tears)...

This week reminded me of a few important things:

Why I am a teacher! - seeing and experiencing other peoples happiness about learning, master and development is such a joy!

Spending time out of the traditional classroom is the right thing to do! To master makes children grow in a good direction. Outdoor learning gives children the opportunity to developed and grow the whole person - not only the parts that we can "test"!

Ally and Irene:

Thank you ever so much for being just as you are! Both with a good sense of humor - wihich I love, but most of all: Thank you for sharing your tasks, experiences and knowledge about learning, reflecting, people, nature and Italy! The way you act in the group are exemplary and something to strive for -  for every teacher!

Katrin, Norway