Thanks to the Ernest Cook Trust our Natural Classroom project runs in Buckley until June 2018, where we can offer local schools or groups, the opportunity to ‘re-wild’ young people, particularly those who struggle in a classroom environment, by teaching them traditional classroom subjects such as literacy and numeracy in a practical outdoor setting. The programme is very accessible because it is local and helps young people get outdoors and involved in nature close to where they live.

Feedback from the participants so far has been fantastic “For the last several weeks, I have been bringing a group of young disabled people to take part in this course. I can’t tell you how much the group are enjoying this experience, the feedback from the young people involved and the teacher and support staff who have accompanied them, has been 100% positive.” Sue McGrane, Leonard Cheshire Disability

“The group of pupils who have been working with Kate over the past few weeks have grown in confidence being outside and working in a team has helped them to develop their social skills. The pupils look forward to their visits when they go back to school they then write a report on the activity they have taken part in." One pupil wrote how he had lots of fun and would love to go back when Kate said six sessions he was delighted and cannot wait for pond dipping." Tracy Sheard, Ysgol Argoed

Outcomes:  By June 2018 we will:

  • Engage with at least 6 groups that work with young people in Buckley and the surrounding area to provide free outdoor education sessions.
  • Train staff member in OCN Level 3 Accredited Social Forestry course, to facilitate delivery of the following:
  • Run at least 6 half day sessions of outdoor learning sessions for each of these groups (54+ in total).
  • Run at least 4 outdoor learning sessions for a wider audience, e.g. other schools and local groups, volunteers, and members of the public. These will include public events such as woodland craft skills, fungi forays, species ID training and biodiversity recording days.
  • Recruit at least 5 volunteers from the local area to help deliver the project.
  • Compile a pack of outdoor learning activities and tips that we will provide to teachers to build on our sessions beyond completion.
    *covering how woods promote wellbeing, managing group activities and individuals’ needs, legal obligations and duty of care, practical woodland management, mindfulness practice and woodland crafts and activities.

 

Impacts

  • This project will increase the young people’s soft skills such as integrating with their peers, working together, talking more, cooperating, socialising, creativity, building confidence, improving their mental and physical wellbeing, and gaining an improved understanding of how nature can improve their health and the benefits it can have on their wellbeing.
  • Providing young people with a closer relationship to nature in their local area will positively impact on their sense of community. Increasing local cohesion reduces the risk of street crime, lowers levels of violence and aggression, and better equips people with capacity to cope with life’s demands
  • Young people, especially those with mental and physical health problems, or with extra learning needs, will feel less isolated and better supported through sharing their experiences in a safe environment.
  • Outdoor education sessions in social forestry will give the young people employability skills in conservation, manual tasks and woodland management.
  • Improvements made in local woodland habitats will lead to higher levels of species biodiversity.
  • We will train teachers in how to lead outdoor education sessions that link to the curriculum, so they can provide their own sessions outside the classroom environment beyond the life of the project.

The project is funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, one of the UK’s leading outdoor learning charities. Rooted in the conservation and management of the countryside, the Trust actively encourages children and young people to learn from the land through hands-on outdoor learning opportunities on its estates and by offering grants, so we would like to send a huge thank you to them for supporting our project.