ECT's new outdoor classroomsIn recent years the Ernest Cook Trust’s education programme has expanded steadily. Two years ago the total number of school visits topped 25,000 a year and we’re seeing ever-increasing demand among schools for what we do.  

In response, we have expanded our education team with two new part-time education officers joining (see story below). And we have some new outdoor classrooms – now for the first time we are leading education visits to the Trust’s 500-acre Filkins Estate in Oxfordshire.

The estate was bequeathed to the Trust by Sir John Cripps, son of the post-war Labour minister Sir Stafford Cripps, following his death in 1993.

We have created a new forest school in John’s Wood on the estate, and held our first visit there recently. Visits to the Filkins Estate will be run by our education team based at Fairford.

Meanwhile, Redwood Outdoor Education Centre on the Slimbridge Estate is also expanding. An adjacent area of woodland has been turned into an ‘outdoor classroom’  to accommodate increasing visits from Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and Bristol.

Joining the team 

ECT Education Officer Angela WebbWe are very pleased to welcome some new faces to the education team. Angela Webb has joined farmers Stuart and Tessa Casely at Gore Farm on the Trent Estate in Dorset after a 19-year teaching career.

Angela, pictured left, from Stoke-sub-Hamdon near Yeovil, has had a long association with Gore Farm, having taken her reception and year 1 classes from West Coker CofE Primary School on regular visits. Currently dividing her time between teaching and ECT, she bids the classroom farewell in July to become a permanent member of the education team.

She said: “I think I have landed in paradise. We’ve been frequent visitors to the Ernest Cook Trust at Gore Farm, and I live in the countryside and have a great interest in it, so this is a really happy balance for me.”

ECT Education Officer Dorothy HowesWe also welcome Dorothy Howes, left, to ECT’s Hartwell Estate, where she is providing maternity cover for Lydia Etherington. Dorothy, from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, started in secondary education and has been a primary school teacher for the past 14 years.

“I love the outdoors and have always had a keen interest in wildlife,” she says. “This seemed the ideal opportunity to combine education, which I’ve been involved in my whole career, with my love of the outdoors.”