Month: August 2022

4: Get the bairns oot playing – school can wait

As SNP delegates decide whether to back a motion calling for Scotland's school age to shift from 4/5 to the international norm of 6/7, here's a taste of what Scots kids are missing - life in an outdoor kindergarten in Norway's Arctic capital - Tromsø.

Film: Outdoor kindergarten in Arctic Norway

At long last, outdoor nurseries and kindergartens are getting some official encouragement in Scotland. Pioneers like the Secret Garden in Fife and about a dozen others have offered an alternative to indoor early life for over a decade. But now Inspiring Scotland’s been funded by the Scottish Government to work with eight councils setting up new outdoor play projects. The need to get kids moving and enjoying outdoor activity is urgent. Five years ago, a study of 38 nations ranked Scotland joint last for physical activity, while childhood obesity levels here continue to rise, with a quarter of five-year-olds deemed to be at risk of becoming seriously overweight. So what does the future look like? Maybe a bit like Norwegian kindergarten today – minus the snow. So here’s a sa...Read More

4. Podcast: Get oot to play – school can wait

How would you measure success in the early years of a child’s education? In the Bukkespranget Norwegian kindergarten (where children aged 1-6 play outdoors in all weathers) they ask two simple questions. Does the child ask for more and do the parents tell stories? Note – no tests. All this play contrasts with Scotland’s formal school-based education for 5 year-olds – even though academic research shows children learn sharing, communication, cooperation, creativity and confidence  long before they can sit still enough to begin formal education. The urge to stuff the three R’s into 4 and 5 year-old brains may be understandable in a competitive, dog-eat-dog world – but it’s not rational, helpful, productive or kind. Certainly, at seven the ‘force-fed’ kids of Scotland ...Read More

New – The Nordic Horizons Explainer Podcast

It’s twelve years since Dan Wynn and Lesley Riddoch set up a think tank to focus on the policy successes of Scotland’s Nordic neighbours. Since then, Nordic Horizons has organised almost 70 meetings – most of them in person until the pandemic lockdown in 2020. Now Nordic Horizons meets online – less disruption and travel for speakers and more access for Scots living outside Edinburgh. We’re also producing monthly podcasts of recent events and edited versions of some ‘Golden Oldies’ – including a talk about Norway’s education system where children attend kindergarten (often outdoor) until the age of six – a school starting age the SNP conference is set to discuss in October 2022. It seems many lessons learned over the past decade a...Read More


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