TWIT TWOO – The OWL Collaboration is LIVE!

Read our FAQs

We welcome applications from Environmental and Farm-based Outdoor Learning Centres across the UK for the new OWL Collaboration grant award.

This funding-plus programme brings together:

  • Funders
  • Schools (primary, secondary and special)
  • Outdoor Learning Centres (environmental/farm-based)

The OWL Collaboration has been devised as an immediate response to the experiences of young people during Covid-19, including mental health issues, domestic abuse, and the effect of the pandemic on their social development, achievement and job prospects.

OWL will provide an opportunity for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to experience the recognised benefits of an Outdoor Week of Learning (OWL).

OWL will help the resilience of outdoor learning centres during Covid-19. We have made The OWL Collaboration a forward-buying initiative: centres will be paid up-front for delivery of the programme.

OWLs – Outdoor Weeks of Learning – will be designed and provided by carefully chosen outdoor learning centres that have an emphasis on environmental and/or farm-based learning.

Long Term Impact – OWL is a True Collaboration

OWL has been designed as a long term, meaningful, impact-driven project. Through careful monitoring and analysis, The OWL Collaboration will be a major influence on future funding and policy streams.

Centres participating will be expected to collaborate in the research and to engage with each other in knowledge transfer activities.

How much will The OWL Collaboration grant award?

The OWL Collaboration project grant is for advance payment to cover costs per pupil for a week’s residential visit.

The initial grant payment will be for one year, but this is a four year project and you will be offered the opportunity for multi-year funding providing that you have fulfilled the project’s reporting requirements.

In addition, some centres will be funded to provide training weekends for accompanying teachers prior to the school’s visit.

The Owl Collaboration welcomes applications from organisations that are:

  • Registered UK charities.
  • Outdoor learning centres that provide environment, nature or farm-based learning experiences. Centres that provide outdoor activity but with environment and nature-based activities (e.g. bush craft) as a secondary activity will not be eligible.
  • Provide residential accommodation for school groups. Whilst we will consider quality permanent camping sites, we would prefer to fund sites with full residential facilities, such as bunk rooms.
  • Currently already engage with, and provide outdoor experiences for, young people from areas of high deprivation.
  • Willing, and have the capacity and capability, to engage with schools, teachers, students and families during a lockdown situation (e.g. via online platforms).
  • Able to support provision for young people who are disadvantaged for reasons of poverty.
  • Able to accommodate young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.
  • Able to accommodate young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), including access arrangements.
  • Able to demonstrate an inclusive ethos and consideration for diversity.

This grant is for Outdoor Learning Centres and The Ernest Cook Trust will not fund:

  • Organisations based outside the UK
  • Individuals
  • Schools, Multi-Academy Trusts or other educational institutions
  • Local Authorities
  • Political campaigns
  • The promotion of Religion. Faith organisations may apply, as long as there is clear benefit to the local community and not just those of a particular faith
  • Sole traders
  • Anyone who is applying on behalf of another organisation
  • Organisations without at least two unconnected people on the board or committee
  • Companies that are aimed at generating profits for private distribution

The OWL Collaboration – Host Organisation Eligibility Check and online application form

Please see The OWL Collaboration Application Information Pack with more details about the scheme and how to apply.

Read our FAQs

Applications close Friday 20 November 2020 (12 noon).

For enquiries please email:

We look forward to hearing from you!

There will be an opportunity for schools to apply to participate in The Owl Collaboration in the next phase of the programme … coming in early 2021!


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be a Registered Charity to apply for The OWL Collaboration grant?

For this particular grant we do require you to be a Registered Charity.  We may extend the grant in other rounds in 2021 to include not-for-profit organisations.

Do you envisage the OWL weeks being Monday to Friday, or 7-days long?

When we were doing our research we found a variation in what Outdoor Learning Centres called a ‘week’ – some were 4-nights, some 5 and some 7-nights. A ‘week’ would therefore be what works for your organisation.  Please state this clearly in your application.

Will you fund Outdoor Adventure Centres?

We are looking to fund centres with a priority focus on environmental learning, nature connection and farming, but appreciate that some outdoor adventure activity eg kayaking, climbing might form a part of a week’s programme.  If this is the case, please give some indication in your application of the proportion of time spent in farm and nature-based learning.

What is the maximum grant amount available?

We do not specify an upper grant amount, but ask applicants for the annual bed space availability for The OWL Collaboration.  The grant will cover the amount the centre normally charges per student night and an additional sum for managing the administrative and research element of the project.  Please think carefully about your capacity to offer OWLs.  It would be helpful to have an indication of the parameters of what you are able to offer The OWL Collaboration, ie the fewest and the most number of weeks and bed spaces you are able to offer.  This will enable us to have more flexibility in allocating the grants with the best mix of collaborators.

Could we continue to work with schools we already have a working relationship with?

Yes, certainly.  If your schools are located within areas of high deprivation and have/or have elevated levels of disadvantaged students we would like to bring them into The OWL Collaboration.  We also have links with schools that we can introduce you to.

Will the non-disadvantaged students from individual schools need to pay full cost?

This grant is primarily to support students with disadvantage, but we do appreciate that some school groups will be a mix of those able to pay, and those that cannot.  We suggest that in most cases this grant will cover the disadvantaged students only, and other families will pay in the normal way.  As part of The OWL Collaboration, schools will be able to apply for grants to cover transport costs for the whole group.

Can I apply for a grant for more than one centre?

Yes, you can apply for a number of centres.  Please specify this clearly on the application and list their locations by postcode.

Will we automatically be given a multi-year grant?

The initial grant is for one year, but the project is a multi-year grant running to 2024.  Subsequent years’ grants are dependent on applicants sending in adequate monitoring reports and the required impact data.

Will there be other opportunities for this grant?

We have not made any final decisions about bringing in further Outdoor Learning Centres into The OWL Collaboration, but hope that we can secure further funding with other Trusts and Foundations so that we can extend our reach in 2021.

When will this grant be paid?

If successful, the grant will be paid to successful applicants in December 2020.