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Three- year programme to demonstrate and deliver the benefits of outdoor learning, supported by the charity’s Forest School Leaders’ training.

Natural Connections launch for Somerset, Bristol & Wiltshire

Natural Connections, one of the largest outdoor learning initiatives in the country, is coming to Somerset, Bristol and Wiltshire. This new educational project aims to inspire and connect school children with the natural environment by supporting and promoting teaching outdoors. David Bond, the inspiration behind Project Wild Thing, will launch Natural Connections on 27 June at a conference at Ashton Court.

80 local primary and secondary schools will work together through Natural Connections to develop a culture of taking learning outdoors. The project hopes to inspire and engage teachers, pupils, parents and volunteers. Teachers can also benefit from specially tailored online resources and links to local partners as well as information on additional funding sources for outdoor projects. Schools in Somerset and Wiltshire are supported by the Forest of Avon Trust, and in Bristol by Lighting up Learning.

Natural Connections Project Manager Ian Blackwell said: ‘Parents, teachers, businesses, communities… Everyone has the same ambition over the coming years. We all want to see children enjoy learning, keep healthy, and achieve more in our schools. We hope that access to local outside spaces for lessons through the Natural Connections Project will help achieve this.’

Jim Burt, Principal Advisor for Outdoor Learning at Natural England said: ‘The Government wants to see every child in England given the opportunity to experience and learn about the natural environment… Feedback from teachers and schools participating in the trial to date has been overwhelmingly positive.’

The Natural Connections conference, on Friday June 27, is open to schools, partners, community groups and outdoor learning providers from across the area. You are welcome to attend the event to find out how to get involved in the project and to discuss partnerships.

Natural Connections Hub Leaders manage the project at local level, in partnership with Plymouth University. The Forest of Avon Trust is hub leader for Somerset and Wiltshire. For more information please contact Jon Attwood on: (0117) 963 3383 or email: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Download the Natural Connections Conference flyer (pdf) for 27 June.

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John Muir Training Session

The Forest of Avon Trust continues to develop its work as part of Natural Connections Demonstration Project, one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK. As ‘hub leader’ for North Somerset, we are excited to be supporting schools to forge links between each other, and with outdoor learning providers, to improve and extend learning in the natural environment.

The John Muir award is a key part of supporting and recognising schools and individuals in developing unique and valuable experience in the natural environment. This award works so well to support the this project as it is flexible to meet the needs of each group and also captures not only learning and development in natural spaces but also supports groups to look after and improve these spaces for people and wildlife.

It is great news that the John Muir award team are going to work with one of our key Beacon schools – Clevedon Secondary School – to run some training on Wednesday 26th March to support schools and professionals in North Somerset and the wider area to develop new opportunities for outdoor activities and explore using the John Muir award to capture this. If you would like to book on this please follow this link.

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Natural Connections Demonstration Project

The Trust has just embarked on an exciting new project, which is being trialled across the south-west by Plymouth University. The Natural Connections Demonstration Project is one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK.

As ‘hub leader’ for Somerset, the Forest of Avon Trust has recently recruited a new administrator – Bea Oliver – to work with Training Manager, Jon Attwood, to deliver the project. We will be supporting schools to forge links between each other, and with outdoor learning providers, to improve and extend learning in the natural environment.

We have now begun the process of recruiting up to five Beacon Schools in North Somerset(primary, secondary or special), which have experience of delivering Learning in the Natural Environment (LINE).  Each Beacon School will receive support, training and investment through the project to become LINE specialists and will in turn support up to seven schools new to LINE – ‘cluster schools’ – to improve their offer of learning outside the classroom.

If you would like further information on this project, please email Jon Attwood: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org and click here to read more about what’s on offer.

We are also seeking professional providers of outdoor learning to work with the schools taking part, and will be holding an information event for providers on Wed. 20th November at Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve. If you would like more details about getting involved, please email jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org.

For more information on learning outside the classroom, take a look at the Growing Schools website.

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