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Thrive In-Person Conference Workshop Presenters - Inspiring Scotland

Workshop Presenters - In-Person Conference

We have a number of experts leading workshops exploring different topics at our in-person conference on Saturday 7 May 2022.

Dr. Alexia Barrable

Presenting: Supporting autonomy in children with additional needs outdoors

Alexia works at the intersection of psychology and education, and in particular outdoor learning and the human-nature interactions in educational settings and beyond. She is currently exploring how different experiences and pedagogical approaches can promote (or hinder) nature connection in children. She is also interested in the promotion of mental health and wellbeing across the life span, through interactions with the natural world.

Sharon Faulkner and Jackie Bell, Play Practice Development Team, Fife Council

Sharon Faulkner and Jackie Bell, Play Practice Development Team, Fife Council
Presenting: Loose Parts Play

Sharon Faulkner has managed the Play Practice Development Team within Early Years, Education & Children’s Services, Fife Council for the last 10 years. Jackie Bell is the Play Development Senior Practitioner who supports the work of the team. The play work team are passionate advocates of outdoor play and run the award winning Free Range outdoor play project during school holiday periods at Falkland Estate. Other elements of the team’s work incudes promoting and celebrating play, supporting play in the community and as well as providing play training and development support to the play sector.

Simon Henderson, Broxburn Family Centre


  • Dens, Knots, Swings & Slacklines 
  • Intro to Fire

Simon Henderson is the Operations Manager at Broxburn Family Centre, but mostly he is just an outdoor kid.  He enjoys playing in outdoors spaces that have not been overly designed and risk assessed.  If you want to know more about his day job at Broxburn Family Centre just go ask him….he says he is the good looking one!! He still wonders how he has managed to forge a career out of being a bit of a kid.

Nathan MacGillivray, Broxburn Family Centre


  • Dens, Knots, Swings & Slacklines 
  • Intro to Fire

At Broxburn Family Centre ‘Play is our work’ and Nathan takes his work very seriously. With a lifetime of experience and expertise in play, and an in-built sense of adventure he has worked in play and childcare settings for over two decades. He has managed Broxburn Family Centre’s Out of School Care for the last 20 years, and was part of the team that won Excellence in Children’s Services in the 2018 Scottish Social Service Awards.?Nathan started the #playrevolution movement and has inspired many play revolutionaries.

Cameron Sprague, Stramash Outdoor Nurseries


  • Messy Maths
  • Place-Based Planning

Cameron Sprague has been working with children and young people for over 25 years. He has a BSc in Outdoor Education and is a fully qualified Early Years manager. In 2014 Cameron started as Team Leader for Stramash establishing an outdoor nursery in Fort William from a bare field to the vibrant nursery space it is today. Since 2020, he has taken on the responsibility of overseeing the ever growing training programme for Stramash, as he promotes place-based learning and advocates for child led-outdoor play.

Rich Mitchell, Stramash Outdoor Nurseries


  • Messy Maths
  • Place-Based Planning

Rich has spent a lot of time wandering through trees, swimming deep in the oceans and wondering how we can help children connect with nature and learn the way they know best.

Caroline Walsh, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Presenting: Nature Threading

Caroline Walsh is the Early Years Outdoor Learning Officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RGBE). She has been running a six-month pilot project at the RGBE ‘wee garden’ with local nurseries investigating if it is possible to have an early learning and childcare establishment within the RBGE. She has worked in early years and childcare for 27 years in various roles and forms. She favours working outdoors and is naturally creative and enjoys sharing this with the children.

Louise Licznerski, Little Bugs Outdoor Nurseries

Presenting: Outdoor Learning on the Go

Louise Licznerski has been in Primary Education for over 10 years and has vast experience in Primary and Early Years, however it wasn’t until she took on a role supporting children with additional needs that she saw the true benefits of learning in the great outdoors for all children. This sparked a passion and desire to bring outdoor learning to the masses. Two years later Little Bugs Outdoor Nursery was created. Since opening in 2021 Little Bugs has gone from strength to strength and now also operates an after-school club within the grounds of their site at the Scouting Headquarters.

Rosslyn Mullin, Little Bugs Outdoor Nurseries

Presenting: Outdoor Learning on the Go

Rosslyn Mullin has deep roots in the early years outdoor movement and was one of the original members of the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery Letham Fife. Since leaving The Secret Garden in 2011, Roz’s main aim has been to encourage more outdoor learning in both private and public indoor nursery settings. She has a wealth of management experience within the private nursery sector as well as being a senior member of the team when working within Council Settings.

Dawn Ewan, Mucky Boots Education

Presenting: Potential of your Space

After almost 20 years as an LA teacher, Dawn opened Mucky Boots Nature Kindergarten in 2017. Mucky Boots Education also works with schools and nurseries to provide training and support to take children and staff outside.

Stepanka Quadhir Mocova, Mucky Boots Education

Presenting: Potential of your Space

Stepanka is an experienced Forest School Leader and Early Years Practitioner, supporting children aged 3-12 at Mucky Boots. She is passionate about nature connection.

Hamish Orr and Victoria Scott, Baltic Street Adventure Playground

Presenting: Risk and Reward – The Benefits of Risky Play

Hamish Orr and Victoria Scott are Baltic Street Adventure Playground’s early years playworkers. Since 2018 they have been promoting adventure play for under 5’s through supporting and training early years practitioners how to deliver in the outdoors as well as delivering a weekly family session on the playground. They both have extensive experience working outdoors with children and believe in the transformative power of nature.

Samantha Friedman

Samantha Friedman is currently completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge. She studies the use of nature and nature-based learning methods to support wellbeing in autistic children and is also interested in connection to nature in children more generally.

Jane Mackenzie, Learning through Landscapes

Presenting: Supporting Schemas Outdoors with Loose Parts Play

Jane Mackenzie works for Learning through Landscapes delivering staff training through the Local School Nature Grants scheme across a wide range of educational establishments from Early Years through to Secondary. Her background is in Early Years, and she also delivers the SQA Forest Kindergarten award training, Nurturing Nature programme and Learning through Landscapes’ latest course on becoming an Indoor/Outdoor EY setting.

Gordon MacLean, Learning through Landscapes

Presenting: Supporting Schemas Outdoors with Loose Parts Play

Gordon MacLean leads Learning through Landscapes’ Early Years project, Nurturing Nature, where parents, children and nursery practitioners are taken to areas of local greenspace to engage with nature, develop relationships and enjoy some proper play. Some of the most popular activities are tree climbing, making rope swings, learning about and using fire, and getting covered in mud! Gordon also delivers the SQA Forest Kindergarten course and enjoys leading training sessions with groups of practitioners and teachers.

Zoe Sills, Earthtime For All

Presenting: This is not a Stick!

Zoe Sills was a PE teacher and Pastoral Leader in secondary education before moving into leadership and management in Early Years. She currently manages Earthtime for All’s Forest School nurseries in Moray.

Sally York

Presenting: Outdoor Journeys

Sally York is a qualified teacher (secondary science) and a Chartered Forester with a MSc in Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainable Education from Edinburgh University. Sally retired in 2021 from her role as Education Policy Advisor for Scottish Forestry, which included overseeing the development of the Outdoor and Woodland Learning Scotland network, supporting the growth of Forest School and Forest Kindergarten and developing resources for learning and career options for schools and others. Sally has worked with national partners, to enable more adults to take their children outdoors for learning and play. She now volunteers for several organisations working with educators and children outdoors.

Chris McConnell, Fosso Play

Presenting: What does Rights Based Practice look like and why is it so important?    

Chris McConnell has over 20 years experience working across Children’s Services, both in the public and private sectors. His roles have included work in the Early Years, Out of School Care and Family Engagement, including a period supporting the 3rd sector. Chris has since established FossoPLAY Outdoor Nursery, an entirely outdoor setting, where he and his team promote a strong rights based approach through the nursery’s practice and pedagogy.

Bonnie Maggio, Scottish Forestry

Presenting: Wee Green Fingers

Bonnie Maggio is the Education and Skills Policy Advisor at Scottish Forestry and has worked at a national level on Outdoor Learning for over 30 years with a special interest in Early Years. Her current role in Scottish Forestry includes taking forward Forest Kindergarten.

Janet Cowie, Earthtime For All Forest Nursery School

Presenting: Creating and using resources for storytelling and imaginative play

Janet has been working in Early Years for 9 years, joining Earthtime’s Forest School nursery in Duffus, Moray in 2020, taking on the role of Senior Practitioner in January 2022 and currently undertaking her FOLA Level 8, Forest School Leader award.

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Buy tickets to the Practitioner Workshops, Saturday May 7th in Falkland, Fife.

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