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Outdoor Week of Learning

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The OWL Collaboration was devised as an immediate response to the trauma experienced by young people during COVID-19, including mental health issues, domestic abuse, and adverse effects to their social development, school achievement and future job prospects.

Our ambition is to help in the recovery process, providing an opportunity for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to experience the recognised benefits of an Outdoor Week of Learning (OWL), enabling them to appreciate the natural environment while re-connecting with nature.

The grant is for Outdoor Learning Centres, as they are central to the design and delivery of OWL. Following the devastating financial effects of COVID-19, the programme is designed to help Outdoor Learning Centres stay viable though these challenging times, while bringing maximum long term impacts to young people and their ongoing relationship with the environment.

Long Term Collaboration

Outdoor Learning Centres selected for The OWL Collaboration:

Bore Place, The Commonwork Trust, Edenbridge, Kent
Countryside Education Trust, Beaulieu, Hampshire
Jamie’s Farm, in Bath, Hereford, Lewes & Monmouth
Lambourne End Centre, Lambourne End, Essex
Magdalen Farm, Chard, Somerset
Ufton Court Educational Trust, Englefield, Berkshire
The Shallowford Trust, Newton Abbot, Devon

By sharing best practice with other providers, we hope to move the outdoor education sector forward and ultimately give more children lifelong memories of being in nature and a sense of hope for their future.
Jamie Feilden, Chief Executive Officer of Jamie’s Farm

OWL is a funding-plus programme, devised and led by The Ernest Cook Trust to bring together Outdoor Learning Centres, schools and funders. We envisage its success will see OWL continue beyond the initial four years of the programme.

Collaboration graphic

We believe that a week spent outdoors can have a profound and lasting effect on young lives. To demonstrate this, we monitor and evaluate its effectiveness over time, across ten fields of impact.

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When I told them about the residential next year some of them cried with excitement! Lots of them have never been outside of London and many have never spent a night away from home…
…One boy was still smiling today and said it was because he is looking forward to the November trip!
Participating School Head Teacher

The overall design of OWL has been influenced by the need to plan long term, meaningful, impact-driven projects. By evaluating its effectiveness, OWL’s anticipated success will then become a major influencer of future funding and policy streams.

OWL weeks are designed and provided by carefully chosen Outdoor Learning Centres that have an emphasis on environmental and/or farm-based learning.

How does The OWL Collaboration funding work?

Farm and environmental based Outdoor Learning Centres are selected to provide Outdoor Weeks of Learning for a specific number of young people.

Schools can apply to be matched to an Outdoor Learning Centre. Successful schools are allocated a specific number of places for an Outdoor Week of Learning. Each school will also be funded:

  • £1000 towards travel to the centre
  • training for teachers accompanying the young people
  • membership of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom
How much does The OWL Collaboration grant award?

The grant to the Outdoor Learning Centre represents an advance payment to cover costs per pupil for a week’s residential visit. The grant each Centre is given relates to the number of OWL places it can provide to the scheme. We work on the basis of £500 per child place.

The initial grant payment is for one year, but as this is a four year project, Centres will be offered the opportunity for multi-year funding provided they fulfil the project’s reporting requirements.

In addition, some Centres are funded to provide the training weekends for accompanying teachers prior to the school’s visit.

Applications for Centres are closed for this year. However, you can register your interest and check your eligibility as an Outdoor Learning Centre here.

Applications for schools who would like to benefit from an Outdoor Week of Learning will open shortly. Please contact us for more information.