We are creating a wealth of opportunities to help underserved children and young people make meaningful connections with nature and the outdoors.
Our aim is to enable better educational, professional and life outcomes for each individual as they connect with nature and acquire knowledge and skills. We do this by working alongside schools, colleges and a broad spectrum of private and public sector organisations, providing a range of tailored Outdoor Learning sessions, training and grant funding.
Our Vision for Schools
Through Outdoor Learning, our vision is to help schools nurture an appreciation and respect for the environment, alongside engagement with learning and social and wellbeing benefits.
Who we work with
We work with schools that are located within easy travelling distance of our Learning Sites, and/or within one of our georgraphical hub areas (currently Cumbria/Lancashire and Gloucestershire). Schools should also score highly against our Eligibility Criteria. This is a sophisticated tool incorporating Free School Meals, Pupil Premium, English as an Additional Language, Special Educational Needs, Education and Healthcare Plans alongside catchment-focused metrics such as the Indices of Multiple Deprivation.
In this way, we aim to remove barriers to Outdoor Learning, giving young people universal access to connect with and learn about nature, farming and sustainability.
I now want to bring every class in the school here next year.Headteacher
I would say to teachers, just get outdoors and do stuff like this with your students to get to know them more!School child
What we offer
We offer a targeted programme of support, individually designed for each school, based on a needs analysis and conversations with staff. This will follow one of two pathways:
Foundations for Outdoor Learning
This programme is a comprehensive, long-term support package for schools wanting to embed Outdoor Learning into their curriculum and practice. Support may include teacher CPD, mentoring, and advice on how to optimise use of your school grounds. We do this on your school site, with some supported visits to local green spaces and our own learning locations. This programme requires buy-in from your school’s leadership team in order to embed the change, and will be a whole-school project.
We will design a package of support, then work through this with your team. Although we are with you to advise, train, encourage and celebrate your progress, it is your team who will bring about the change in your school. We will develop a step-by-step plan identifying current opportunities and blockers – with strategies for overcoming these. This is your ‘Theory of Change’ which will be referred to throughout this journey to ensure we are on track.
This programme uses The Ernest Cook Trust’s own learning locations – woodlands, farms, rivers and other natural landscapes – together with our Outdoor Learning leaders to support a school’s Outdoor Learning provision. This may be your first foray into Outdoor Learning, or it may enhance and extend your existing programme. Either way, we will co-ordinate with your school-based learning, and aim to inspire all participants to spend more time outdoors.
Schools with a lower level of eligibility may be offered curriculum-focused visits, supporting practical fieldwork, and geographical and ecological skills. These sessions have the specific aim of developing knowledge of habitats and environments, and increasing awareness of how landscapes and nature can be protected and managed.
Provision for schools with a higher level of need may include sessions that support wellbeing and/or span the curriculum, as well as those sessions that promote an understanding of nature and the environment.
For more information, please contact us by email.
Find out more about our Outdoor Essentials Grant, which is a £500 grant to help schools with their Outdoor Learning projects.
Take a look at our Blue Influencers Scheme, an England-wide social action project aimed at 10-14 year-olds, helping address the specific environmental concerns raised by young people living in coastal, river and estuary communities.
Our Communities Programme supports the work of organisations who are already in contact with disadvantaged young people and those facing challenging circumstances or deprivation.
We aim to co-design and co-deliver Outdoor Learning sessions using the OMHI (Outdoor Mental Health Interventions) Model, combining our professional qualifications with a partner organisation’s specialist offering in order to achieve desired outcomes.
These Outdoor Learning sessions normally last for a 6-8 week period and take place predominantly on our estates but also on green spaces close to the young person’s locality.
Our Communities Programme also aims to build a network of Outdoor Learning Officers with funding to support partner organisations throughout the UK, working with underserved young people.
We are continually developing our Communities Programme and welcome conversations with potential partner organisations, including those who share our interest in Ecotherapy and its potential for helping underserved young people in the community.
For more information about partnering with us, please contact us by email.
Never thought in a million years I'd be able to do something like that.....I love dirty hands now!Student on the Blacksmithing course at our Skills Workshop in Fairford
This programme focuses on careers and qualifications for disadvantaged young people aged 16-30 years, particularly those facing challenging circumstances and deprivation or those from minoritised ethnic groups, who are currently under-represented in outdoor professions.
We aim to inspire each person to translate their love of nature into a career. We do this through:
- Apprenticeships and Traineeships
- Delivery of Qualifications
- Specialist Training Courses and CPD
- Work Experience, Careers Fairs and Open Days
We are partnering with a growing number of organisations to help fund and deliver the Outdoor Futures Programme. The Trust’s own Training and Apprenticeships grant stream (see below) is available to trainees and apprentices.
Please contact us for more information.
We partnered with FRESH AIR to organise a Blacksmithing course for young people at our Skills Workshop in Fairford, with the help of students from Hereford College of Arts. BBC Points West reporter Andy Howard came along too:
Our partners at Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership (PHLP) have created a series of inspirational films promoting a range of exciting, out of the ordinary careers in the outdoor, heritage and arts sector:
Our established Everything Outdoors Grant schemes provide skills and leadership opportunities for young people to make positive environmental change, help tackle the barriers to outdoor access, and keep nature connection at the heart of learning. Please click on the links below for more information, and check our social media channels and website for announcements of new rounds of funding for each scheme.