Welcome to Tayside OWL Group
Tayside Outdoor & Woodland Learning (OWL) Group supports quality outdoor learning and play practice across Tayside. We welcome educators, outdoor learning and play practitioners, and families – anyone interested in making the most of our outdoor spaces for play and learning.
Our history: We were launched as the Tayside cluster group at the Dundee Flower Festival in September 2009. This was under the national umbrella of the (then) Forest Education Initiative or FEI. Then FEI changed to the Outdoor & Woodland Learning (OWL) Scotland network, and Tayside OWL group relaunched at an event on Moncreiffe Hill in 2015 .
Over this time we have held regular meetings and coordinated a number of succesful projects and events. These have included CPD/ CLPL programmes for teachers and educators, and seasonal events for families, educators and the general public. Take a look in the Projects and Events section of our group pages.
Our committee holds regular business meetings, recently online, but more usually based at the Education Shed, Kinnoull Hill, Perth. The group also organises regular skills share and training events.
We aim to offer a programme of workshops and events to those interested in developing their outdoor learning and play skills, while having fun and making new connections at the same time. The running of the group is currently supported by Scottish Forestry grants, while additional grants support our programme according to annual themes.
Tayside OWL group comprises of a wide variety of folk with a diverse range of creative, educational and practical skills. New members are always welcome – plus it’s free to join! Being a group member means you’ll be kept informed about any planned events and other opportunities across the OWL network. You are welcome to join our meetings or get involved in the committee. Check out the Minutes & Meetings pages for background information.
Tayside OWL Group helped to support the growth of the Perthshire Outdoor Play (POP) project. This local group, run by enthusiastic parent volunteers, supports family outdoor play in and around Perth, and members of the group are on our committee. POP won the Early Years Educational Section of Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards in September 2021.
Please get in touch if you would like to join Tayside OWL Group or find out more – see our Contact Details page. We also have a Tayside OWL Facebook page.
We are very fortunate to have the wonderful Storyteller Claire Hewitt in our FEI cluster. Throughout 2013 Claire will be sharing a story each month on a tree famously, or frequently found somewhere in Perthshire. The final resource is available to download below, for use by teachers and other educators, or just those who enjoy a good yarn…
Nature Families was a partnership project for Tayside Outdoor & Woodland Learning (OWL) Group in 2015 with community involvement from Perthshire Women’s Aid (PWA) and the families they support, funded by Big Lottery Communities & Families Fund. It had been prededed by the pilot project Nature Time led by Alice Warren and Penny Martin of Tayside OWL Group in 2014, which worked together with mothers and children supported by Perthshire Women’s Aid. .
The report and appendices available below describes the Nature Families programme of Forest School sessions in 2015 for children 8 years and under with some engagement by mothers, aimed to improve health and well-being, and enhance PWA services. It was led by Penny Martin, a qualified Forest School practitioner, in tandem with a Forest School Level 3 trainee staff member from PWA, with input from an outdoor practitioner as a positive male role model.
Throughout the project there was an emphasis on collaborative working to evaluate the impacts of nature play on family relationships and levels of well-being. The project report is available to download below (zipped file) or find this by searching the OWL Scotland resources. For more information email email@example.com
Tayside Cluster group members came together over two weekends for a series of DIY Geodesic Dome building workshops. Ten cluster group members took part in the workshops, led by Paul Henry of ‘Dome works’, at which they learned; about the history and uses of Geodomes, how to select, fell and prepare suitable wood for poles, use green woodworking tools and safe practice for putting up and taking down the finished dome.
The completed dome was first constructed at the Open for Action Day event in September, allowing community participation from the public, teachers, families etc.
Participants enjoyed learning new skills in an informal environment and
developing their capacity to use/demonstrate use of wood working tools.
The dome, a 16ft structure with canvas cover is now available for all cluster members to use for events and activities. In 2013 we have plans to use it for
storytelling workshops and a spring gathering.
The report is available to download below.
Anne-Marie Mackin (Secretary)