Out to Play
ASN School Residencies

Out to Play lends itself well to be adapted and delivered in schools for children with additional support needs (ASN) and complex learning needs (CLN).

Residencies for ASN and CLN Schools include creative, sensory-based outdoor learning sessions which aim to deepen pupils’ connection to our natural world, alongside CPD to support staff to develop creative and playful approaches to outdoor session delivery.

As well as sensory activities, the Drama Artist utilises a mix of drama-based creative play, interactive storytelling and visual props to create special storytelling environments for learners of differing abilities and needs. To date, we’ve delivered 5-week long residencies in Hampden School, Langlands School, East Park School and Middlefield School in Glasgow, with more planned for the future.

“Getting our children back inside is now the bigger challenge – Sophie has opened their eyes to the excitement of nature and helped us use more sustainable resources for play.”

Catriona Campbell, East Park School
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Discover how Eco Drama Artist Sophie McCabe took the garden at East Park and used its features to create bespoke sensory experiences for their pupils in this article, written by Strathclyde University’s CELCIS (Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care & Protection) about East Park School and their involvement with Out to Play.

How Does It Work?

On 2 days each week for 5 weeks, an experienced Drama Artist facilitates imaginative, sensory-based creative activities exploring a variety of nature themes, plus two staff CPD sessions supporting the much coveted ‘teacher-led’ week. Two ‘getting to know you’ visits take place prior to the first week of the residency so that children can become familiar with the Drama Artist and vice versa, ensuring the sessions are tailored to the individual needs of pupils. Resource packs are provided to support the wider project.

“Teachers have gained so much! Ideas, confidence, knowledge. Ways to use easily accessible resources, how to structure play where appropriate, and how to have fun. The residency was so much more than we had hoped for. Out to Play is a brilliant way to inject some inspiration into a team, and one which will have a lasting impact on those who participate.”

Catriona Campbell, East Park School
Eco Drama - Out to Play ASN residencies

Creative Outdoor Learning for Complex Learning Needs

Residency sessions are attuned to each individual learner, with small group sizes or one-on-one sessions as required. The sessions are sensory-based and use drama, storytelling, songs/music and imaginative play – incorporating natural, craft-based activities and physical props that pupils can touch, smell and explore. Sessions are designed to be very adaptable with a variety of options for the differing needs within each group to help learners engage in the nature topic or theme. In this way Out to Play for pupils with complex learning needs becomes a unique experience tailored to each individual or group.

“The thing that surprised me was how engaged the pupils were. They created their own animal characters and engaged more imaginatively than I thought they would. I will now take the ideas from Out to Play and give them a go. I will do drama with the pupils now because I know it will work.”

Teacher, Middlefield School


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ASN Blogs

You can read blogs here about the Drama Artist’s experience delivering Out to Play at Complex Learning Needs schools.

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If you are a school interested in developing more imaginative approaches to Outdoor Learning for your complex support needs learners, and are looking for teacher CPD opportunities and support, please contact Schools Project Manager Suzanne Prak-Sandilands – suzanne@ecodrama.co.uk or call 0141 552 9920


“The children really welcomed the Eco Drama team into the school. The pupils looked forward to each session. Children often remained engrossed in the activities in ways that led East Park’s staff to rethink how to structure their outdoor sessions, so that the children have more opportunity to explore activities and to play and learn. The staff had already been rolling out play training and sensory integration training, but the Eco Drama programme has encouraged them to develop it further.”

Catriona Campbell, Head Teacher East Park School

“The pupils engaged well with the ocean session, which they loved. During my teacher-led session I led an activity where we made an exploding volcano. They loved it. I will definitely continue to run creative outdoor sessions.”

Colette, Middlefield School

“Pupil C is very dramatic. He loved the maze. I watched him work with Sophie and was amazed at how well it went and how he embraced the creativity. I’m going to incorporate using creative maps into my lessons now. I’ve got a better idea, after seeing him with Eco Drama staff, what he’s actually capable of. I got so much out of the project.”

Claudia, Middlefield School
Eco Drama - Out to Play ASN residencies