Preparatory work will commence on Monday 29 March at the park’s East Lodge which will be the hub for the ground-breaking project which will see the city’s first outdoor nursery.

The pilot project is one of the highlights of Aberdeen City Council’s £23 million investment transforming nursery settings across the city in preparation for expanded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) hours for children below school age.  

Outdoor nurseries are being embraced nationally in the public and private sector as a part of a strategy informed by the success of the same approach worldwide, with Scandinavia in particular championing the benefits of outdoor learning. Practitioners in Aberdeen have already collaborated with similar settings in Spain through an external grant funded project, as well as developing a community of practice based on outdoor teaching between ELC provisions in the city  

Councillor Jenny Laing, Co-Leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “We have undertaken an extensive study on the benefits of outdoor, play-based learning and we are now ready to apply this learning in Aberdeen and ensure our young children reap the rewards.

“We are delighted to see so many of our new ELC settings coming onstream and we are proud of our infrastructure investment. Innovation is every bit as important and the Duthie Park is the perfect location to focus on for our pilot project. Hazlehead Park will also see an ELC outdoor learning setting as we look to utilise our wonderful greenspaces to offer more new and exciting options for parents and children.”

The creation of outdoor nurseries and hybrid nurseries – combining more traditional nursery provision with extended outdoor learning – is viewed as an important part of a wider city strategy, the key aims of which are to enhance physical, emotional wellbeing and social development.

Councillor Laing added: “With this innovative project we are looking to put into practice the academic research that demonstrates that outdoor learning improves attainment, develops motor skills and benefits physical and mental health.”

Costing £1.4m the Duthie Park nursery is scheduled to open in summer and will also include provision for indoor space in adverse weather in the redeveloped East Lodge to allow for adverse weather.

Staff ratios will be enhanced from indoor levels to ensure the highest standards of health and safety are maintained and all staff will be trained in outdoor provision and committed to continuous development of their outdoor ELC practice.

Gordon Milne, managing director, Robertson Construction Eastern, which is delivering the transformational nursery settings through Procurement Hub Major Projects Framework, said: “The introduction of the city’s first outdoor nursery further illustrates Aberdeen City Council’s commitment to provide first class learning environments for pre-school children.  We are proud to be the contractor of choice for the delivery of this important project and look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Council.”

Managing Director at Halliday Fraser Munro, David Halliday said:

“Working with local communities in the Aberdeen area plays a huge role in our organisation and having already successfully delivered a number of facilities for Aberdeen City Council, we are delighted to be marking the start of the next adventure on Duthie Park later this month.

These state-of-the art ELC facilities are a real attribute to the people in the area and an excellent addition to the greenspaces round about us. Duthie Park will no doubt create an accessible centre for all of the community to enjoy.”

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