Summer of play delivery opportunity in partnership with Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Outdoor learning and play facilitator (ranger)

Notes of interest (including proposed cost) by Friday 11th June to be submitted FAO Suzanne Hermiston via
Anticipated start date – 21st June 2021


Since March 2020, Scotland (along with other nations of the world) has suffered a global pandemic. Some of those who have felt the impact most greatly are young people – unable to meet with their friends socially or at school, they were instead limited to staying and learning at home, separated from so many social and learning opportunities. As a result, their mental health has suffered and their childhood has been changed forever. The Scottish Government has acknowledged the need to return to simpler times for children, with an initiative entitled ‘Summer of Play’ and associated funding. This acknowledgement brings hope for future generations, as does one of the positives to come out of lockdown – a reconnection with nature.

With the help of government funding, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh hopes to play its part in helping, by introducing its own green recovery programme for children.


The ‘pop up’ garden will reach families in both rural and urban areas through taking part in outdoor play and through supporting online materials. This will allow parents and children to relearn the value of play whilst increasing their interest in nature and subsequently encouraging them to take action against climate change and biodiversity loss.

The mobile event will run over the Scottish school summer holidays (from end of June to mid- August), ‘popping up’ in different locations – linked to the botanic gardens in Edinburgh and their regional gardens at Logan (Galloway), Benmore (Argyll and Bute) and Dawyck (Borders). Regionally sessions could be offered in nearby towns and onsite at the garden, whilst in Edinburgh delivery may be limited to the garden due to the scarcity of other suitable outdoor venues during the festival period).

Sessions will be aimed at children aged 3 – 8 years old, and you will be able to create and mould the content and approach in line with RBGE guidelines and mission statement. We would welcome further discussions with interested parties – please contact (FAO Suzanne Hermiston)

Alongside the physical events taking place, online materials will be available to help parents work with their children to explore the world around them. For example, short films or activity guides will be produced encouraging mini adventures in their local area which aim to open up their senses and stimulate both their imagination and love of nature. These resources will help parents and children to break down stereotypes around what can and can’t be touched, deal with issues of ‘getting dirty’ and increase parental confidence in playing outdoors. They should also encourage a child led approach to play and may include how to use natural materials in physical making sessions at the roadshow (i.e., twigs, leaves, stones etc) or could be story based (depending on the existing skillset and interests of the practitioner).

At the end of the summer holidays (at the beginning of the new school year) work will be undertaken with primary schools to deliver some elements of nature play with teachers. This may involve a virtual teacher CPD session and the inclusion of online materials to help maintain interest amongst young people.

Responsible to: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Education Team
Hours: 37.5 hours per week (including overnight stays)

Sessions will run during Scottish school summer holidays (from end of June to mid- August). We anticipate that contact time will be approximately 2 days per week with the remainder of the time being spent in planning, development, content creation and evaluation. Sessional Rangers would be expected to keep the RBGE education contact informed of progress.

Salary: Up to £12,000 (+expenses)
Base Location: Commutable to Edinburgh but with travel to all regional gardens. Overnight stays are required where all costs will be covered by the project (travel, accommodation, and subsistence).

Project Outcomes

The Ranger Project works towards achieving the following outcomes:

The proposed title for the project is “Down at the bottom of the garden…” with an accompanying strapline of Play. Plant. Protect. The main aims of the programme are:

  • To encourage children and parents to engage in nature play irrespective of the outdoor space available to them
  • To provide easily accessible resources for parents and teachers to help encourage more nature play amongst children
  • To offer ideas for free activities which children can complete at home
  • To embed a message of the importance of respecting nature when playing and subsequently encourage positive behaviour change towards the climate emergency and biodiversity loss amongst Scotland’s children
  • To increase the time spent playing
  • To improve children’s mental and physical health during the global pandemic recovery period
Project Delivery Implementation
  1. Create, plan and deliver free play sessions in pre-identified project areas.
  2. Assist with sourcing and offering appropriate play resources (mainly loose parts, low cost, natural and recycled play items) to respond to the children’s play within allocated budget.
  3. Work with schools and local community organisations to effectively communicate with children, young people, parents, carers and other community members on the development of the project.
Evaluation and forward planning
  1. Gather evidence and documentation on an ongoing basis to assess success of the project using project outcomes and indicators.
  2. Assist in identifying key learning from the project to support further development and to aid future funding applications.
  3. Assist in producing final reports for funders and partners.
  4. Identify and obtain resources to support the effective delivery of the project.
  5. Engage with regional gardens to coordinate delivery and connect with local communities
Ranger – Key Responsibilities
  • Create, plan and facilitate community-based outdoor play sessions for children and young people in all weathers. These may include different types of play, such as loose parts play, adventurous play, natural /outdoor arts & crafts, storytelling, games and messy play. Supporting materials which can be shared digitally afterwards are also required to be provided by the Ranger.
  • Ensure records and budget are kept up to date (for example, numbers attending, session evaluations, spend to date etc).
  • Be guided by an ethos which values and respects children and young people’s ideas and suggestions.
  • Be guided by the mission and values of RBGE.
  • Use a risk benefit assessment (RBA) and dynamic risk assessment approach when planning for and supporting children and young people’s play.
  • Ensure that all policies and procedures are adhered to (for example, child protection, data protection, health and safety).
  • Assess and monitor the community spaces used when operating play sessions and, if appropriate, remove and/or report any items of concern.
  • Model positive behaviour and support children and young people to do the same.
  • Deal with any challenging behaviour in a sensitive and fair manner and in accordance with policies and procedures.
  • Liaise with parents, carers, professionals and partnership agencies to develop positive working relationships.
  • Monitor and evaluate the project, using methods which are fun, engaging and suited to the children and young people taking part.
  • Disseminate key findings of projects through appropriate channels.
Additional Responsibilities and Opportunities
  • Attend RBGE update meetings (roughly every 2 weeks) and complete orientation visits to each of the regional gardens to ensure familiarisation with regional specific processes and procedures (including biosecurity).
  • Undertake training, either required (for example, first aid) or which might be relevant to the role.
  • Follow any other instructions and perform duties that have been reasonably requested.

Support will be provided from across RBGE (regionally and from within the education team) when required.

Those meeting the key criteria may be invited to an informal interview during the week of 14th June.