Aberlady classroom going ‘off grid’

Friday April 5th 2019

Aberlady Primary School, East Lothian

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A new ‘off grid’ classroom with its own eco-friendly toilet could set a trend for East Lothian schools.

Aberlady Primary School is set to be the first school in the county to have its own bespoke outdoors classroom built in its grounds.

Overlooking the woods next to the village school, the room will be used by its nursery and will be built with timber and corrugated steel

Described as off grid, it will not have an electricity supply but will instead use solar panels to charge a battery which will be used to power lighting in winter months.

Composting toilet facilities will also be included in the plans although they will be in a separate timber building outside the classroom.

The modest classroom will, according to plans, “sit quietly and comfortably within the existing grounds, providing a valuable and forward thinking resource for the school and community of Aberlady”.

Applying for planning permission for the outdoors classroom East Lothian Council’s education department said the school needed to expand its nursery provision to meet the increased hours which were being introduced.

The Scottish Government wants all nursery eligible children to be given 1,140 hours of free nursery care from August next year.

A spokesperson for the local authority said outdoor learning and classrooms are recognised internationally as a key development that can improve health and learning for youngster,

They said: “The proposal is for a self-contained early years unit that is ‘off grid’ beside the school’s woodland area, which is a popular space already used by children and staff for play and outdoor learning.

“Once completed, Aberlady’s design could act as a catalyst to developing further educational facilities across the county offering children more opportunities to learn, play and connect with the outdoors

“In general terms they (outdoors classrooms) allow children and staff the opportunity to explore their natural environment whilst also providing shelter from particularly inclement weather.

“Children can gather together for snack and group learning experiences throughout the nursery day. We have been working with the school community and partners to develop a design that will best suit their needs.”

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