Over 16,000 children have swapped the classroom for countryside in the past year, thanks to a surge in the number of school visits to the Ernest Cook Trust’s country estates.
The leading educational charity, which is based in Fairford, Gloucestershire, has seen its visitor numbers increase dramatically this academic year from last year’s figure of 12,400.
The Trust plays a vital role in helping children to learn from the land with its successful countryside education programme, which is offered free to schools.
Children and young people aged from three to 18 visit ECT’s farms, woodlands and rivers to learn first-hand about farming, wildlife, biodiversity and natural habitats, and to take part in the Trust’s Forest School programme or residential visits.
The charity has also donated over £4.3 million over the past three years, cultivating children’s interest in the countryside and the arts, investing in traditional skills and contributing to projects which raise standards in reading, writing and maths.
In the past year education centres at ECT’s Fairford and Slimbridge estates in Gloucestershire have pulled in 11,300 visitors. The charity’s Gore Farm education centre, on its Trent estate in Dorset, has welcomed 2,500 pupils.
And some 2,300 schoolchildren have visited the Hollies Education Centre, which opened two years ago on the charity’s Little Dalby estate near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.
Ernest Cook Trust’s Head of Education Anne Newman said: “We have seen an unprecedented increase in numbers of schools visiting us this year. It’s partly because we have expanded our education team and so have the extra capacity.
“But it’s also down to the fact that schools really love what we do, and the fact that we do it well. They know that it’s not just a jolly day out in the countryside – the programmes we offer help children learn from the land as well as fulfilling the requirements of the curriculum.
“These increased visitor numbers are testimony to the hard work of our education team, and they show that the Ernest Cook Trust is really in the forefront among national educational charities.”
For further information see www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk
Media contact for the Ernest Cook Trust: Martin Whittaker, Viva Communications Ltd, 01453 756714,