Milestone School, Gloucester
– visit to the Redwood Education Centre, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire

The school has 280 children with a wide range of special educational needs.

Children aged from 12 to 15 from the Milestone special school visited the Trust’s 50-acre Outdoor Education Centre at Redwood regularly over two terms. Although the children have a range of special educational needs, the exciting activities were designed by ECT’s Head of Education Anne Newman and woodman Lee James to help them make the most of the opportunity to learn from the land.

Teacher Alex Peckham :

“The first time we arrived and the children were told they had to walk across a meadow to get to the Education Centre in the middle of the next field, there were a lot of groans… but by the next visit, they were literally running across; they couldn’t get there fast enough!

“The whole experience was absolutely fantastic for the children – for most of them, it was their first chance to learn in an outdoor, countryside environment. They found it completely exhilarating. They were able to get stuck in to real practical skills like sawing and hammering when they made bird boxes, with careful instructions from Lee.

“They watched Lee hanging the bird boxes in the woods; and they filled bird feeders nearby. Over the weeks, Lee was able to show them which boxes had nests, and where eggs were being laid and hatched. There were about ten eggs in one bird box, and the children were thrilled that they had helped.

“They also built a shelter in a clearing in the woods, working together as a team, choosing the best place for it and went on to clear areas for primroses, moving scrub and rubbish, and planting trees.

“The children hunted for mini beasts and went pond dipping; they learned orienteering skills, following a map through the woods to find Easter eggs and then went on to help create an orienteering route, digging holes and helping to set marker posts, carrying the heavy wooden posts through the woods, wielding full-sized spades.

“There were so many benefits – not simply the huge learning opportunities,” added Alex. “They were outside, in the fresh air, running around and having such a wonderful time. It had a really positive impact on their behaviour and their confidence.”