Climate Ready School Grounds
Climate Ready School Grounds explores using school grounds to address the impacts of climate change whilst creating outdoor environments that support learning and play. The project offers a suite of resources to help schools, local authorities, and design professionals create climate ready school grounds.
If you are a teacher or educator, stay on this page to view and download resources to support you in planning and implementing changes to your school grounds. If you are a landscape architect, designer, or local authority, please visit the Architecture & Design Scotland website to find appropriate resources to support you in creating and adapting school grounds to be more climate ready.
Learn more about the Climate Ready School Grounds project below, or use the buttons to navigate to the educational resources, guidance on technical areas, and case studies.
Why do we need Climate Ready School Grounds?
School grounds across the UK add up to an area equivalent to a new national park. In Scotland alone, school grounds account for an area the size of Dundee city and make up 14% of the land owned by local authorities.
Many of our school buildings and grounds were not designed and built with the need to adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Currently 84% of existing school grounds are hard surfacing or maintained grass, both of which offer little mitigation against a changing climate.
The school campus is also a place where our children spend significant amounts of time, for play and learning. They provide the opportunity for ‘living laboratories’ as part of a quality climate education for all children and young people. Learners are afforded the opportunity to make changes related to many aspects of climate change, biodiversity, and air quality, moving from climate protest to climate action.
Our schools also form the centre of our communities, both geographically and socially. Changes to schools grounds can inspire and benefit all in our communities with regards to taking action on climate change. At present, there are few practical resources on how schools, local authorities, and landscape architects can develop a new approach to using our school grounds as we now experience our changing climate.
We have drawn together (and will continue to develop) key resources which will assist both schools and design professionals to focus on a few relevant areas related to developing climate ready schools.
What are Climate Ready School Grounds?
A Climate Ready School Ground will:
- Mitigate the impact of climate change on the built environment and our children
- Create a space which provides experiential learning for climate and sustainable education
- Typically use nature-based solutions, will be child accessible, will change and vary through time.
- Inspire the whole school community into taking action.
- Offer increased health and wellbeing, and reduce social and economic inequalities.
What is the Climate Ready School Grounds project?
The Climate Ready School Grounds project was a year long project and partnership between Architecture & Design Scotland and Learning through Landscapes. Our aim was to draw together existing knowledge, start our journey to developing more, and to engage with pupils and schools to pilot our approach.
The project worked with 3 schools across Scotland, representing three very different communities and physical school sites. The team at LtL and A&DS worked with each school to undertake workshops full of practical ideas to develop understanding of our six ‘technical areas’.
At the same time, the project learned about pupils understanding and views on climate change. We learned that there are significant opportunities here, and what the priorities are around developing Climate Ready School Grounds and supporting changes in how we develop and use those spaces.
During the year we also researched and collated related resources, connected with similar projects around the world and learned about the role that landscape can play in mitigating for a changing climate.
Making Strategic Connections
The project also created time for us to speak to important organisations and individuals within Scotland. This includes the Scottish Government, The Scottish Futures Trust, Education Scotland and Nature Scot. These organisations hold the responsibility, decision making and budget around school grounds and climate education.
Having Climate Ready School Grounds in Scotland will support our efforts to meet the following strategies:
- Scottish Learning Estates Investment Programme and Learning Estates Action Plan
- Learning for Sustainability, into which outdoor learning is a key element.
- Climate Ready Scotland 2019-2024
- United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, for both hearing children’s voice and taking action
Due to the co-benefit nature of improvements to school grounds, we would also claim that a Climate Ready School Grounds would also contribute towards Play, Biodiversity, Communities and Health agendas.
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The Climate Ready School Grounds resources for teachers and educators are designed to help schools adapt their outdoor spaces to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Visit the technical areas page to find guidance to support you in identifying and addressing issues in your school grounds, or download our surveys, workshops, and lesson ideas below.
If you are a landscape architect, designer, or local authority, please visit the Architecture & Design Scotland website to find appropriate resources to support you in creating and adapting school grounds to be more climate ready.
School Grounds Climate Survey
The School Grounds Climate Survey is designed to stimulate discussion and awareness around developing a climate ready school ground. Completing the survey with your pupils will highlight resources which can help you develop your space to be more climate resilient while also providing a rich curricular linked learning opportunity.
There are two versions of the School Grounds Climate Survey available to download: a digital version and a PDF version. The digital version is an Excel spreadsheet which will produce graphs to help identify priority areas for your school grounds based on the results you input. You can enter your results directly into the digital version of the survey using a tablet, or complete the survey on paper before entering the results back in the classroom.
The Climate Ready School Grounds workshops were created to support teachers and educators in planning and implementing changes to their school grounds to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Designed to be completed with pupils and members of the wider school community, the workshops cover every step of the process, from surveying your outdoor space through to planning and action.
Download all four workshops below. In order to complete the workshops with your pupils, you will also need to download the School Grounds Climate Survey, guidance on the six technical areas, and additional outdoor lesson ideas.
Browse and download our climate change and biodiversity related outdoor lesson ideas, including the activities you will need to complete workshops one, two, and three.