Schoolchildren across the South East are set to benefit from a new learning programme and two grant schemes to help connect them with nature.
The South Downs National Park Education Network is launching a new set of initiatives to help schools deliver more learning outside the classroom.
The network, made up of more than 100 education providers that offer learning experiences for young people, have developed an extensive online teacher training programme to support teachers as they return to school under difficult circumstances.
Meanwhile, two new grants have been launched that will help schools to benefit from a visit from an expert, or a field trip visit to a site in the National Park.
It comes as the Department for Education has recommended schools use outdoor spaces for learning and school trips have been given the go-ahead. Research has consistently shown that outdoor learning and connection with nature increases attainment and improves the health and well-being of both pupils and staff.
Jonathan Dean, Education Officer for the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We want teachers and young people to have positive experiences as they settle back into school this Autumn Term. Many schools were closed and outdoor education officers, museum guides and bush-craft teachers alike were left with empty diaries when they would normally have been engaging thousands of young people with the incredible landscape, history, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the South Downs National Park.
“We knew that when schools returned in September we would have to find new and innovative ways to share our passion and knowledge with others. We hope this new programme of online teacher training and two new grants will help schools make the most of outdoor learning opportunities and create positive memories in these challenging times.”
The education network, county council outdoor education advisers and headteachers fed into the development of the new programme of online teacher training. The sessions and visits are linked to the special qualities of the South Downs and they will be of greatest benefit to schools within the National Park or within an approximate 10km radius of the National Park.
The new initiatives will support:
- Over 250 teachers to feel more confident about delivering their curriculum in the outdoors.
- Over 1,000 pupils to benefit from high-quality learning experiences delivered by experts in their schools grounds or in local green space.
- Over 500 pupils, especially those experiencing the highest levels of deprivation with the least access to high-quality green space, to benefit from fully-funded trips to sites within the National Park.
All schools will be eligible for free teacher training provided by the network.
Secondary Schools, Special Schools and any school with over 25% pupil premium funding will be eligible to apply for a grant to cover the full costs (transport and activities) to a site in the National Park. Contact: https://www.southdowns.gov.uk