After a six month European–wide tendering exercise Plymouth University has been selected, subject to contract, to deliver the Natural Connections Demonstration Project to 200 schools across the South West of England.
Natural Connections is a new initiative led by Natural England in partnership with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, and a wide range of civil society organisations, which aims to significantly increase the number of school aged children experiencing the full range of benefits that come from learning outside the classroom in natural environments.
Funded by DEFRA, Natural England and English Heritage, the Demonstration Project is founded on two core principles in the Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP); voluntary action and fair access to the natural environment. It will commence in September 2012, and run over 3 school years through to December 2015, with a focus on schools in areas of multiple deprivation that currently provide little or no learning in natural environments. The project will rely on engaging the local community to help schools access the wealth of local resources, skills and expertise that could meet their needs.
The project has been informed by insight research into the needs of teachers, evidence of barriers and benefits of learning outside the classroom in natural environments and best practice models for engaging volunteers.
Over the next 3 years the project will deliver:
- School transformation – 200 schools with approximately 40,000 children and 2,000 school staff, with little or no previous experience of children learning in natural environments, will have embedded learning outside the classroom into their practice and culture.
- Active community involvement – Volunteers will have been recruited, trained and be actively supporting their local schools to access local green spaces.
- Better access to existing resources – an enhanced online web service will enable teachers and local communities to have easier access to the wealth of learning places, resources and support already available in their locality.
- Evidence – to demonstrate to schools and parents the positive impacts and value of learning in natural environments.
For further information on the Natural Connections Demonstration Project, insight research, and the NEWP, please click on the links below: