We recognise that school education extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. For many years we have offered a wide range of opportunities to expand our pupils' horizons socially as well as educationally by using the natural environment.
Education day centres
Our education day centres at Perlethorpe and Brackenhurst offer exciting programmes that enrich the curriculum, bringing it to life for the children through the local environment. The Mill Adventure Base in Mansfield is able to provide local adventure activities for our young people after school using their climbing tower, local reservoir and ropes courses.
Schools also visit our residential centres in the Peak District. At St Michael's, which caters for younger children, it can often be an early leap towards independence for a pupil perhaps away from home for the first time.
At Hagg Farm, aimed at older primary and secondary students, challenging adventure activities such as climbing, canoeing, caving or abseiling boosts their confidence, encourages teamwork, helps raise attainment back in school, and offers memorable experiences that will last a lifetime. It's important that all pupils can access the opportunities so the facilities and activities are adapted for children of all abilities.
A recent independent study of the outdoor provision in Nottinghamshire by the University of Derby concluded:
'The Authority enjoys a high reputation for its provision among its users and among the sector nationally - it is well placed to lead policy and developments and the demonstration of good practice'
That is why we have invested in and maintained the resources over the last 25 years. Of course, in the economic environment we find ourselves in it's important to consider the costs of anything we offer and the centres have planned business models to make sure that they are sustainable in the long term. As an example, at Hagg Farm the centre is fully occupied in holiday periods and weekends by a wide range of groups from around the country, to raise income that then contributes to the budget. We know schools value the provision, as they are well used. Annually about 20,000 young people access the centres and at the residential centres the occupancy is more than 80% in term time over the whole year.
It is important to consider what the pupils think about the opportunities that the Council offers them. In a diary about Hagg Farm recently a student from The Brunts School in Mansfield wrote:
'We saw sides to people we had never seen before. People smiling and adventuring out of their shells. The trip taught us how to overcome our fears and achieve goals we'd never imagine we'd complete'.
Comments like this drive the Council's continued commitment to the outdoor and environmental education opportunities that it provides for its young people, both now and in the future.