South Downs National Park funding boost helps 1,400 disadvantaged children enjoy a trip outdoors

South Downs National Park in West Sussex

South Downs National Park Trust funding boost

Around 1,400 disadvantaged young people will be able to enjoy an outdoor learning adventure thanks to a new funding boost. It comes after a new round of funding from the South Downs National Park Trust and the boost has been supported by AMEX and the Sussex Community Foundation.

Schools from across the South East will be able to apply for grant support to help deliver educational experiences such as hands-on conservation work, wildlife surveying, practical geography and geology or learning ways to tackle climate change.

The initiative builds on the success of the grants scheme last year as thousands of children went on school trips to sites in the South Downs National Park or took part in nature-based activities in their school grounds.

Julie Fawcett, Chair of the South Downs National Park Trust, said: “We’re really excited to be able to provide funding once again for these vital school grants. School trips and outdoor learning are such an important part of growing up and learning more about the world.

“Yet research shows that travel costs are a significant barrier for planning school trips. We think every child deserves the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors and learn more about the natural world. Nature gives us everything – water, clean air, food – and it’s so important that young people are inspired by it as they are the future custodians of our amazing, but fragile, planet.”

Eligible schools and grant money

Schools with more than 10% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals can apply for support when planning trips up to the end of summer term 2022.

Schools will receive a grant up to £750 to support with the costs of travel and activities (£500 travel, £250 activity costs) when visiting a site or provider in the South Downs Learning Network, which is made up of over 100 learning providers across the region. Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first served basis.

Jonathan Dean, Education Officer for the South Downs National Park and who will be helping to deliver the scheme, said: “This fantastic initiative is all about helping young people discover the special qualities of the National Park, bringing their curriculum to life while also enjoying the health and wellbeing benefits of a deeper connection with nature.

“Outdoor education should be part of all young people’s learning and development, and understanding more about the natural world serves a wider purpose to inspire young people into future action and careers that support a green recovery.”

Teachers on South Downs National Park school trips last year

Sue Poore, a Governor at West Rise Junior School in Eastbourne, said: “We really appreciate the Travel Grant that we receive from the South Downs National Park. School budgets being as tight as they are, this grant enables us to offer our children an additional paid trip to the wonderful countryside around Cuckmere Haven.

“As a school we are believers in the therapeutic benefits to children of outdoor space particularly at this time and we are so fortunate to have this amazing facility on our doorstep.”

Pupils at Lyndhurst School, in Worthing, visited the Weald and Downland Living Museum for a school trip last October. Deputy Head Jo Halley said: “Although the cost for the venue and workshops themselves were very reasonable, the cost of coach travel to the venue would have meant that this trip would not have been possible without receipt of the grant.”

Children from Bartons Primary School, in Bognor Regis, enjoyed a trip to Marwell Zoo. School Secretary Debbie Camp said: “The grant made a huge difference to our families, especially during Covid times. Thank you for your support, it made such a difference to our families and it was so easy to apply for the grant.”

Meon Junior School, in Southsea, Hampshire, took 52 Year 6 pupils for a residential trip last June. The outdoor learning opportunities were planned to enhance their topic work and teachers said it “ensured every child has access to a full enriching curriculum.”

Nicola Wells, Headteacher at Barton Farm Primary Academy, Winchester, which visited Marwell Zoo, said: “Following the lockdown we were desperate to be able to give our children the opportunity to take their learning off site.

“Our Year R cohort had missed out on so many rich learning experiences due to Covid and we wanted to make their first ever school trip a really memorable one but we were concerned that the escalating coach travel costs would make this unfeasible for this year group.  I was therefore delighted to learn of the travel grant programme.

“The trip was a resounding success and only made possible by the generous support of the travel grant.”

To apply for a grant visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/grants-for-schools/

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