International School Grounds Conference 2022

We were privileged to host the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) conference in February 2022, in partnership with ISGA and Living Classrooms.

Ideal for educators, teachers, and design professionals eager to expand their understanding of outdoor learning, the ISGA conference brought together the best in outdoor learning and play in school grounds.

Speakers and programme

Featuring speakers from Bangladesh to Belgium, each day of the 2022 conference focussed on a specific theme, from early years to health and wellbeing. View the programme below.

9am – 10am: Opening Ceremony

Join Learning through Landscapes CEO, Carley Sefton, and Professor Pete Higgins (University of Edinburgh) for the opening ceremony of the International School Grounds Conference 2022.

10am – 11am: Scotland’s Journey into Learning for Sustainability, Outdoor Learning and Play

A panel discussion chaired by Learning through Landscapes, featuring Professor Pete Higgins (University of Edinburgh), Marguerite Hunter-Blair (Play Scotland), Dr Claire Warden (Living Classrooms, International Association of Nature Pedagogy) Ali Dreyer (Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education) and Sally York (Retired Forestry Scotland Education Manager).

11am – 12pm: Scotland’s Play Journey – Play, Planning and the Built Environment

From playgrounds to streets and parliament buildings, Play Scotland has led a quiet revolution in national policy. Come and hear the practical advice from Cherie Morgan and Marguerite Hunter-Blair on how this has been achieved, the challenges still faced, and the opportunities that it has created.

12pm – 1pm: Council Leadership and Support for Outdoor Learning and Play

With Jane Jackson from Falkirk Council and Scottish Advisory Panel for Outdoor Education (SAPOE). Jane will take us through the strategic and on the ground support to support schools and early years settings in improving quality and quantity of outdoor learning and play. Along with colleagues, Jane is supporting projects around play from early years to secondary, and a diversity and regularity of outdoor learning experiences for all children.

2pm – 3pm: Journeying with the natural world: nature centric models and therapeutic connection

With Marina Robb, Circle of Life Rediscovery. Marina will share her work and what we can learn about the benefits that play and learning in nature can bring to all children. and

3pm – 4pm: Diversity in Outdoor Learning and Play

Learning through Landscapes’ CEO Carley Sefton and cultural marketing consultant Myvanwy Evans will share how Learning through Landscapes is working with partners to develop a more diverse and equitable approach to outdoor learning and play.

4pm – 5pm: Increasing Outdoor Learning and Play – globally and school by school

UPDATE: Cath is Ill and so Carley Sefton will step in to lead this session. With Cath Prisk, ex Global Head of Outdoor Classroom day, currently OPAL Mentor. Cath will take us through the impact of the global movement that is outdoor classroom day, while taking us down to the school by school work that moves them on from a once a year event to a daily behaviour and expectation.

6pm – 7pm: Evening discussion - Leading for outdoor learning

A discussion facilitated by Jaime Zaplatosch (USA), Sharon Danks - (USA) and Cam Collyer (Canada). Open to all conference attendees.

7am-9am:Morning discussion: Leading for outdoor learning

A discussion facilitated by ISGA members Anna Ekbland (Sweden), Ching-Fen (Taiwan) and Carley Sefton (UK). Open to all conference attendees.

9am – 10am: Learning to Make Behaviour Maps in School Grounds

Mohammed Zakuil Islam from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology will cover the the theory and process of behaviour mapping, as well as hands-on experience of behaviour mapping in practice and what that means for changing school spaces.

10am – 11am: Designing Play into the Playground

Landscape architect Wiktoria Szulik from Wardell Armstrong, UK, will explore how case studies from the Wardell Armstrong portfolio have followed a unique child-centric approach and how this has redefined their playscape design and delivery.

11am – 12pm: The Oasis Schoolyard Project

Raphaelle Thollier, Project Manager of the Oasis Schoolyard Project, Paris, explains how the project has transformed 10 schoolyards into urban ‘cool islands’ using innovative techniques, nature-based solutions and an integrated approach. Following a short video and presentation the workshop will take the form of a Q+A session.

12pm – 1pm: From School Play Spaces to Children’s Right to Play for Brazilian Childhoods

Roni Hirsch from Erê Labs, Brazil, will discuss how, by developing each project in its own pedagogical and environmental context, Erê Lab has been creating new specific equipment and strategies to embrace play as a social integration experience in schools.

2pm – 3pm: Learning Landscape Design – a dialogue between landscape and education

Angela Ibanez is the co-founder of Patio Vivo, a non-profit which has created more than 70 Learning Landscapes in Chilean schools. In this session, Angela will discuss Patio Vivo’s design strategy, which consists of developing a common language between landscape and education, considering the specific school culture and territory.

3pm – 4pm: The Problem is the Solution – how permaculture can help you overcome your school’s challenges

Join Children in Permaculture Coordinator, Lusi Alderslowe, as she discusses the permaculture principle and gives some excellent examples of how permaculture has helped schools to overcome challenges.

4pm – 5pm: Working with design professionals to understand outdoor learning and play

Learning through Landscapes’ Head of Education and Communities, Mary Jackson, will discuss the benefits of working with design professionals to get the most out of your school grounds.

6pm – 7pm: Evening discussion - Design of school grounds

A discussion facilitated Prof. Lois Brink and students (USA), as well as Lais Fleury (Brazil). Open to all conference attendees.

7am – 7.45am: Morning Discussion - Climate Change and School Grounds.

Facilitated by Susana Morais (Portugal), Dr Matluba Khan (UK/ Bangladesh) and Raphaëlle Thollier (France). Open to all conference attendees.

9am – 10am: Auchlone Nature Kindergarten – virtual tour and discussion

Dr Claire Warden, founder of Living Classrooms, will take us on a tour of Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, a pioneer outdoor kindergarten in Perthshire, Scotland. We will see how the nursery operates both practically and in pedagogy.

10am – 11am: A Practitioner’s View of Bringing Outdoor Pre-School to the Mainstream Parent

Kenny Forsythe from Stramash Social Enterprise, Scotland, will explore how we can demystify outdoor learning and using landscapes for the mainstream parent, allowing more children to access outdoor learning nationally.

11am – 12pm: The Wonder of Woodwork

Pete Woodhouse from Irresistible Learning, UK, explores the rich learning and development benefits that come from establishing woodwork provision for early years, how to set up an area, health and safety considerations and more.

12pm – 1pm: Training, Inspiring, Protecting – Early Years Practice and Space in Malta

Learning through Landscapes’ Ruth Staples-Rolfe and Jane Mackenzie will share insights from the Erasmus+ funded Training, Inspiring, Protecting programme, which is delivering early years outdoor learning training on an international level.

2pm – 3pm: Any ‘kinder garden’ can embrace nature for children’s, adults’ and planet Earth’s sake

Josefina Prieto of Naturalizar at Fundación Ilumina, Chile, will share hopeful and inspirational lessons learned from her practice, encouraging us all to bring nature back to our settings for the sake of children, teachers and the planet.

3pm – 4pm: Journeying with the natural world – nature-centric models and therapeutic connection

Marina Robb, from Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC and The Outdoor Teacher, will introduce the ‘nature-centric’ models that lie between nature-based programmes for all ages, discussing the basic elements that offer therapeutic connection.

4pm – 5pm: Early Years Q&A

A panel discussion led by Dr Claire Warden.

6pm – 7pm: Evening discussion - Early years play and learning

A discussion facilitated by Dr Claire Warden (UK), Charly Crump and Gordon Maclean (UK). Open to all conference attendees.

7am – 7.45am: Morning Discussion about Early Years

A discussion facilitated by Julie Mountain (UK) and Ko Senda (Japan). Open to all conference attendees.

9am – 10am: A Fresh Start for Young Learners

Joanne Dempster, STEM tutor at The Prince’s Foundation, Scotland, will give an overview on Fresh Starts: a multi-day, cross curricular programme delivered by Dumfries House, aiming to provide an exciting outdoor learning experience for young people who are typically disengaged from education.

10am – 11am: Making the most of community assets – opening school grounds for playing

Marianne Manello, Assistant Director of Play Wales, will discuss how children’s access to outdoor space for play, exercise and enjoyment differs greatly across Wales and how this was heightened during the coronavirus pandemic. Marianne will also report on an action research project which piloted the use of school grounds for play at the end of the school day as part of coronavirus recovery.

11am – 12pm: Learning on a Climate Reactive School Grounds

Cedric Ryckaert from Sint-Paulusschool Kortrijk, Belgium, will present his school as a case study. Previously a dull, concrete school ground, Sint-Paulusschool Kortrijk has now turned green, and is a great example of how to overcome challenges and to be ambitious in creating a school ground that is adapted to climate change.

12pm – 1pm: Bouncing Back with Nature Connection

Respected practitioner Aline Hill will explore the critical difference between nature contact and nature connection and why it matters more than ever, in an interactive blend of theory and practice.

2pm – 3pm: Child-Friendly Placemaking – how children are leading the transformation of community spaces

Join Heidi Campbell, Senior Manager of Evergreen Canada, and Paula Gallo of Recreate Place, as they share Evergreen Canada’s inclusive child-friendly approach to placemaking and creating more inclusive and connected communities in cities.

3pm – 4pm: Engaging children in multidisciplinary, evidence-based mental and physical health equity solutions

Marci Raney, Associate Professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles, USA, and Claire Latané, founder of the Emergency Schoolyard Design Volunteers for the US National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, describe how collaboration at urban schools in Los Angeles has delivered schoolyard transformations that optimise student health and environmental outcomes.

4pm – 5pm: Green schoolyards as a platform for navigating conflict resolution and gender identity

Professor Lois Brink from the University of Colorado, USA, will explore the current research and programmes on green schoolyards and their potential as spaces for conversations around conflict resolution, change and acceptance.

6pm – 7pm: Evening discussion -Health and wellbeing

A discussion led by Cath Prisk (UK) and Heidi Campbell (Canada). Open to all conference attendees.

7am – 7.45am: Morning Discussion about Health and Wellbeing

A discussion hosted by Kerry Logan (Australia) and João Monteiro (Portugal). Open to all conference attendees.

9am – 10am: Teaspoons of Change

10am – 11am: Out to Play

Emily Reid from Eco Drama, Scotland, discuss the challenges and successes of delivering Out To Play: a unique arts-based outdoor learning project supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, which sees drama artists collaborate with primary schools and nurseries in Glasgow’s most disadvantaged areas.

11am – 12pm: Construction in School Grounds

Richard Barry explores methods of construction in school grounds.

12pm – 1pm: Why movies? The case of the beginning of life outside

Bebel Barros , from the Alana Institute, Children and Nature Programme, Brazil, will explore how movies can be tools for empathy and inspiring action. Bebel will consider how a movie the Alana Institute recently produced – The Beginning of Life - became a reach and impact movement.

2pm – 3pm: Secondary Play

Learning through Landscapes’ Rob Bushby and Steve Moizer will discuss findings from a recent programme in secondary schools across Falkirk, which aimed to improve breaktime experiences and understand how play can support a positive transition from primary to secondary education.

3pm – 4pm: Early start in science – how schoolyard learning gardens can support science literacy in urban communities

Jane Hirschi, Executive Director of CitySprouts in Boston, USA, will present the preliminary findings of their Early Start in Science initiative: a science learning programme in 20 urban American elementary schools.

4pm – 5pm: The national COVID-19 initiative – a time-tested solution for a 21st century challenge

Karen Cowe, Sharon Danks, Claire Latané and Nancy Striniste of the US National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative will give an overview of the project, which was launched in the US in May 2020 to help schools reopen safely and equitably by using outdoor spaces for learning and play.

5pm-5:30pm - ISGA Closing Session, including handover to next hosts Brazil.

With Learning through Landscapes, International School Grounds Alliance and our new hosts from Brazil.

6pm – 7pm: Evening discussion - Climate change and school grounds.

A discussion facilitated by Shari Wilson (US), Cedric Ryckaert (Belgium) and Birgit Teichmann (Germany ). Open to all conference attendees.

Keep in the know

If you’d like to get involved or want to stay up to date on our projects, sign up to our free newsletter today.

Contact Us

Please fill in the form below and someone from the LTL team will be in touch as soon as possible.