Outdoors Thinking

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Enthusiastic take up with Local Authorities

Bristol City Council

April 2022 – April 2023 & Module 1 only October 2023 – January 2024

Working closely with Pippa Hawkins, previously Interim South Bristol Early Years Area Lead in the Bristol Early Years team, several small funding streams were combined to provide part-funding for 20 places (managed by Bristol Teaching School) and recruitment enabled by the whole Early Years team. Pippa also advised on programme development and now leads the course delivery team for the region.

The course in Bristol has demonstrated its appropriateness and relevance for childminders and in addition underscored the value of mixed provider-type training experienced over a long period of time.

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Norfolk County Council

April 2022 - April 2023, September 2022- July 2023 & September - July 23-24

Working with Workforce Development (Early Years) in the Learning and Achievement Service of Norfolk Children’s Services, a long-term partnership approach has been developed.

These courses were organised to run on Saturdays so as to widen participation, especially for childminders.

Recruitment, managed via their Early Years Provider Portal, is aimed at all provider types and participants have included a teacher working in a special school for high medical and physical needs and a specialist childminder supporting children with SEND.

Child Paces Learning
Loved it! Has helped to empower me to implement change and have the knowledge to defend the changes
Early Years Practitioner - Norfolk

Sheffield City Council

April 2022 – April 2023 & Oct 2023 – March 2024

Working with the Early Years Access, Quality and Moderation team manager for Sheffield City Council, a long-term partnership approach has been developed. Recruitment was enabled by their general training offer.

For the first courses, running on a week day, funding was initially directed at foundation units in schools but has now been opened up to private, voluntary and independent providers for further courses.

Girl Jumping
I feel that I now understand more deeply why children behave in certain ways – how this enables them to develop and learn. I feel more confident about being able to explain this to others. This course has enabled us to make the most of our outdoor area.
Teacher - Sheffield

Hounslow Borough Council

April 2023 – March 2024

Overview of arrangement

Working with Early Years and Childcare Advisor (Learning and Development), London Borough of Hounslow, 18 places directed at PVI settings including childminders were funded by the Borough of Hounslow. With recruitment managed by the Early Years team, this course is delivered by Outdoors Thinking trainers on Saturdays to enable wide participation.


The Certificate in Outdoor Practice was quickly recognised as a CPD programme more relevant to the needs of providers in Hounslow requesting more Forest School training, as well as a responsive strategy for supporting children born during the pandemic. In the urbanised context of a London borough, the course was seen as able to support settings with limited or shared outdoor spaces, or help practitioners understand how to make more effective use of the outdoor areas they can access, including local and community spaces.

A feature of the programme in Hounslow is to nurture early years outdoor specialists, who will then champion outdoor play and learning throughout the borough.

Special nature