Outdoor Classroom and Learning Area

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In 2016 the Friends of the Park were delighted to receive a generous donation from the NextEnergy Community Fund. The parent company, NextEnergy, operates the solar farm on the site of the WW2 airfield at Podington.

The donation was in two parts, the largest of which has enabled us to create a Learning Area within the Shelter Belt. Located close to the Visitors’ Centre the site had previously provided a temporary storage area for the material used to construct paths around the Park. It had the advantage of being largely free of ground cover and was almost level. Once the surrounding trees had received some attention, construction started in January 2017.

HOCPTo the amazement of all concerned, the work was completed in just two days, leaving us with a beautiful outdoor classroom for visiting schools. The intention is to provide a base where teachers can brief pupils before they set off to work in other areas of the Park. Enough temporary but secure storage has been provided for children to leave their coats and bags. Seating is provided for Primary age children.

HOCPDisplays on the walls provide visitors and children with a map of the Park and information about its earliest Romano-British visitors, and its origins as a quarrying site. Other boards help children identify the common birds and trees found in the Park. The clearing around the classroom provides seating for children to have lunch.

We have planted the area around the clearing with trees that are, or have been, useful to people through the ages. A guide to these will be provided.

And what happens when schools are not using the Learning Area? Well, it’s open to all, providing a place of rest and shelter and also a picnicking area. Within days of its completion, the building was being used by one of the many groups using the Park.

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A growing number of schools visit the Park to carry out curriculum activities. With local schools we are developing a number of resources for teachers for use in the Park. The first, developed with Carlton Lower School, deals with the Notational Curriculum requirements for Map Skills at Key Stage 2. Once completed and tested, the materials will be available to all schools locally.