The Countryside Alliance Foundation

“The Countryside Alliance Foundation launches outdoor education report.

Outdoor education is a subject close to my heart, one we believe is vitally important if we’re to reverse the decline in access to, and understanding about, the countryside – which is why I want to let you know about a new campaign. The Countryside Alliance Foundation (TCAF) launched a brand new report, Outdoor education – the countryside as a classroom, which went out to all schools in England and Wales on the 19th March 2010.

Children’s contact with nature has halved in a generation in fact 62% of children say they play indoors at home more than any other place. So it’s no wonder so many children struggle with basic flora and fauna identification and lack a real understanding of where food comes from. If children aren’t getting these outdoor learning experiences at home, we believe it’s imperative they get the chance to at school.

The Foundation believes there should be an entitlement to outdoor learning in the National Curriculum to ensure it becomes part of every child’s education. This key recommendation was made in evidence given to Parliament on the 3rd March 2010. In addition, The Foundation also presented the Children’s, Schools and Families Committee our research showing the significant demand for outdoor education among teachers and children and the low risks of well managed outdoor education.

The Foundation’s report has been welcomed by expert organisations including Natural England, The Field Studies Council and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England said: “This report is a helpful contribution to an important debate. The natural environment is there to be explored by children, it is their right and we need to do all we can to encourage outdoor learning and create opportunities for children to enjoy and appreciate the countryside.”

Denise Kitchener, Chief Executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, believes the report is a welcome injection of commonsense into a debate which is too often distorted by irrational fears of litigation. She commented: “Teachers need to understand that there is nothing to fear from sensible risk assessments, which can allow them to enhance children’s education through outdoor learning without causing them needless injuries.”

Robert Lucas, Chief Executive of the Field Studies Council said: “We welcome The Foundation’s campaign as it brings fresh thinking and makes sensible recommendations to draw attention to the importance of outdoor learning and how to reverse its decline.”

It’s a hard task to find anyone who doesn’t support getting children out and about in the countryside to learn. Yet the countryside still remains an enigma for far too many children, with only 47% going on a trip to it with their school in 2008. In 2006, Government pledged to ensure all children had access to a range of outdoor learning experiences. It’s now time for Government to deliver on its pledge and respond to the clear demand for outdoor education and ensure schools have the resources to deliver it.

To find out more about the campaign please go to: www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk

Or feel free to get in touch:
Charley May
charley@ca-foundation.org”

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