Teach­ers pass on out­door skills

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

IF you go down to the woods to­day – you are likely to find teach­ers and chil­dren in out­door class­rooms.

Of course it de­pends which woods you go to. I was in Black­ley For­est when I met a group of teach­ers learn­ing For­est School skills from our bril­liant Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cers Kathryn Phillips and Katie Dear­den.

At For­est Schools teach­ers are learn­ing some great wood­land skills, cre­at­ing out­door class­rooms and get­ting the kids out­doors where it is much health­ier.

The plan is that we teach them about the out­doors and then they learn to love the wildlife that is all around them. And, who knows, some of them might turn out to be nat­u­ral­ists them­selves in years to come.

Wouldn’t that be great if we had a fu­ture David At­ten­bor­ough, Simon King, Ellie Har­ri­son or Char­lotte Uh­len­broek get­ting a taste for na­ture in one of our lo­cal schools? What­ever hap­pened to Char­lotte Uh­len­broek?

We are lucky to have re­ceived fund­ing from play­ers of Peo­ple’s Post­code Lot­tery for our For­est Schools over the past two years.

I at­tended an event last year to meet some of the winners and they were de­lighted to hear that the money they had in­vested in play­ing Peo­ple’s Post­code Lot­tery was go­ing to an amaz­ing pro­gramme not only to teach the first batch of chil­dren, but also cre­at­ing a legacy where teach­ers would gain ac­cred­i­ta­tion to con­tinue teach­ing For­est Schools. They were also de­lighted be­cause they had won quite a lot of money.

When I ar­rived in the woods Kathryn and Katie were teach­ing the teach­ers how to safely light a fire and cook some glo­ri­ous cre­ations in­volv­ing hal­loumi, pasta and marsh­mal­lows, but not all in the same pot.

The idea is that chil­dren will light fires and use tools on their own but we can teach them the safe and re­spon­si­ble way to do it. We can also teach them what is safe to eat and to re­spect wildlife.

It is great to see chil­dren hold­ing slugs and bugs, pond-dip­ping, iden­ti­fy­ing bird­song and look­ing out for mam­mal tracks.

One of the ‘trainees’ told me: “If I had my way, we would be teach­ing chil­dren out­doors all the time.”

Teach­ers come from many lev­els of out­door teach­ing. Some have done it be­fore but for oth­ers it was a real bap­tism of fire.

All the teach­ers in­volved were en­thu­si­as­tic even af­ter be­ing on the course for a week with the weather not be­ing bril­liant all the time. Schools in­volved were Lily Lane, Mos­ton; St. Dun­stan’s, Mos­ton; St. Wil­li­brord’s, Clay­ton; St. Malachy’s, Col­ly­hurst; and Bowker Vale, Crump­sall.

The train­ing week was held at Bowker Vale and the wood­land next to it. What an amaz­ing place that school is. Schools were not like this when I was a pupil, 100 years ago!

And how I needed the lessons. I am of­ten scolded by the ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cers for pick­ing things up when I shouldn’t and not us­ing tools prop­erly.

Well let me tell you, I fit­ted a toi­let seat over the week­end so I’m not com­pletely use­less.

A num­ber of or­gan­i­sa­tions are in­volved in For­est Schools but the Wildlife Trusts are hop­ing to roll our more and more op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with schools in the re­gion. If any school is in­ter­ested they can go to our web­site (www.lanc­swt.org.uk/ for­est-schools­man­ch­ester) to learn more about this won­der­ful pro­gramme.

Per­son­ally I am still dream­ing about the marsh­mal­lows, they were lovely. To be­come a mem­ber of the Wildlife Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org. uk.

●● Safety first with fires at the For­est School

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