Office: MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, 99 Berkeley Street, Glasgow, G3 7HR
Research title: Evaluation of outdoor nursery provision for child, family and community health and wellbeing
Outdoor nature-based provision in the Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sector is becoming increasingly popular in Scotland, and globally, with the belief that it may provide children (2- to 5-years old) with additional health and wellbeing benefits beyond the traditional approaches in early years provision. The potential diversity of natural features afforded by the environment can encourage children to engage in a variety of play types throughout the day potentially having a positive impact on their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing outcomes.
In recent years, nature-based ELC has been developing rapidly in its implementation across Scotland and globally. It is important for researchers to learn the ways in which this type of ELC provision functions so that we can have a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms that impact (positively or negatively) children's health and wellbeing outcomes. In doing so, we can improve policy, planning, and practice.
Oliver's PhD is working closely with Glasgow City Council and Inspiring Scotland to develop a systematic method of evaluating the impact of nature-based ELC provision on children's and practitioners' health and wellbeing. To do this, several research methods have been employed: collaborative engagement with a steering group to infrom the design of the PhD project, participatory methods with key stake holders such as Evaluability Assessment, qualitative thematic analysis of field observations and interviews, and statistical analysis using propensity score matching.
Oliver's PhD contributes to the growing body of evidence in this field by introducing a context-specific programme theory, and findings from a feasibility study testing the possibility of potential evaluation methods and study designs. Oliver is also investigating the contextual factors that might affect successful implementation of nature-based provision including practitioners, ELC management and wider influences of the environment and policies. The findings from this PhD can inform national policy, planning, and practice in the ELC sector, improving the experiences and outcomes of children and practitioners.
Oral presentation - 'An Evaluability Assessment of Glasgow's nature-based early learning and childcare for children's health and wellbeing.' International Medical Geography Symposium. June 2022. Edinburgh. https://imgs2022.org/.
Poster presentation - 'An Evaluability Assessment of Glasgow's nature-based early learning and childcare for children's physical activity and wellbeing.' Scottish Physical Activity Research Connections. November 2021. http://www.sparc.education.ed.ac.uk/conference-archive-2/sparc-2021-conference/ (online).
Oral presentation - 'Developing a programme theory of nature-based early learning and childcare for child health and wellbeing.' International Festival of Public Health. July 2021. The University of Manchester. (online).
Delegate - UK Evaluation Society Conference. May 2021. (online).
Guest speaker - Invited to participate in a key note speak at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement alongside Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Rachel Cowper, and Alex Harper on the topic of 'Building back better with play-based learning for school improvement and effectiveness.' March 2021. https://2021.icsei.net/keynotes/ (online).