How school grounds can tackle the climate emergency 

Pupils from St Mary Dunblane, smiling at the camera during their Climate Ready School Grounds workshop session.
Published: 05/10/2023

Press release - new resources for schools and designers launched to help schools and design professionals

As our climate changes, could we do more to use school grounds to address climate risks, while creating an outdoor environment that supports learning and play?   

A suite of new resources has been launched to help schools adapt their grounds to tackle the climate emergency. The resources – created by Learning through Landscapes and Architecture and Design Scotland – are aimed at both individual schools, as well as designers and local authorities.    

Schools at the heart of communities

The outdoor areas of Scotland’s schools are often at the heart of communities – seen and used daily for learning and play. They make up 14% of local authority-owned land in Scotland. However, 84% of that area is either grassland or hard surfaces, which are poor environments for our changing climate, biodiversity, learning, and play. Making adaptations here would mean visible and accessible changes for the whole community to see while creating inspiring spaces for learning and play.

Collaborative approaches 

The resources were developed following a year’s collaboration. The Climate Ready School Grounds project worked with three schools across Scotland, representing three very different communities and types of school grounds.    

Learning through Landscapes – the leading UK charity dedicated to outdoor learning and play – and Architecture and Design Scotland – Scotland's design agency - facilitated workshops with the schools to help identify the impacts of climate change on the school grounds, along with practical ways to mitigate them. We were also able to learn about pupils’ knowledge and views on climate change.    

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 a changing climate. This has helped inspire the learning resources that are now available to anyone involved in creating Climate Ready School Grounds.   

A pupil making a bird feeder during a Climate Ready School Grounds workshop.
Photo by Malcolm Cochrane Photography/Learning through Landscapes

Nature-based solutions

Matt Robinson, Learning through Landscapes Chief Operating Officer said “It is clear from small projects and research across the globe that improvements to the school grounds shelter our learners from the worst impacts of climate change, and that the changes will also increase biodiversity, manage carbon and clean the air. These nature-based solutions offer deep learning opportunities and inspire our communities to take practical action in public spaces.” 

Jim MacDonald, Architecture and Design Scotland Chief Executive, says “This project is exciting because it will provide practical examples of how schools can play a critical role in climate-conscious places. By developing the project in collaboration with schools, teachers, and Learning through Landscapes we are able to provide rich guidance on how to make our school grounds climate-ready and create more inspiring learning spaces.”    

Download resources 

The suite of resources – including case studies, practical resources, and guides - is available to download from: 

For teachers and educators:  

Visit the Learning through Landscapes website to download resources to support you in planning and implementing changes to your school grounds. 

For design professionals or local authorities: 
Use the Architecture and Design Scotland website to find appropriate resources to support you in creating and adapting school grounds to be more climate ready. 

Inspirational video

The resource also includes a video by Yellow Balloon Films that sets out the opportunities for adapting our school grounds to tackle the climate emergency and create more inspiring learning spaces across the country.  It illustrates how small actions can have a big impact on the school, the community and in the fight against the climate emergency.

View resource here

For press queries

For any questions about the resource or requests for interviews or images please contact Anja Ekelof, Communications Manager, Architecture and Design Scotland, or Matt Robinson, Chief Operating Officer, Learning through Landscapes.