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The Forestry Commission’s Alice Holt Forest has been awarded a Quality Badge for its education service by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. The badge provides recognition for high quality educational visits as well as safety standards.
This means it is now easy for teachers to organise school trips to Alice Holt Forest as it removes some of the ‘red tape’ associated with educational visits. Teachers no longer need for to carry out risk assessment for activites led by Alice Holt Forest education staff.
The Quality Badge is also an indicator to users that the provider operates in a safe, secure and healthy environment and that there will be a mutual understanding of the purpose of the visit with an emphasis on learning and skills.
The Quality Badge was developed in response to the Government’s Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto. It is a national initiative to ensure young people are given the opportunity to experience the world beyond the classroom.
Helen Wallace, the Forestry Commission’s Education Manager at Alice Holt Forest, said:
“Being awarded the Quality Badge is a real coup for all the staff here. It could be considered to be in the same vein as the Ofsted inspection but for learning outside the classroom and we are thrilled to get official recognition. The badge is a very useful tool for teachers and we are sure it will give them more confidence when organising offsite visits.”
There are two routes to attaining the Quality Badge. Route one is for organisations offering activities that take place in public venues, such as museums, galleries and places of worship.
The Forestry Commission attained the badge via route two for their qualified education staff with experience, training and specialist knowledge. The staff are able to deliver outdoor learning programmes in the forest which are tailored to meet the learning needs of children and adults whatever their age, ability or circumstance.
The Forestry Commission has been running a broad ranging education programme at Alice Holt Forest for twelve years, with more than 12,500 children and adults now participating each year.
The organisation offers learning experiences right across the curriculum for children from 14 months upwards in Early Years sensory exploration through to 16 to 19 year olds studying A’ levels. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for school and pre-school staff and Alternative Educational Setting (AES) placements for student teachers are also offered.
For further information please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/aliceholt or contact Helen Wallace on 01420 23666 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge visit www.lotcqualitybadge.org.uk.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto was launched in November 2006, making eight specific pledges to expand access to educational opportunities outside the classroom for all 0 to 19 year olds.
The Quality Badge brings together a number of existing schemes that cover safety primarily; puts the emphasis on the quality of teaching and learning provided (of which risk management is a part); and offers a quality standard for sectors that hitherto have not had a scheme at all (e.g. museums and galleries, field study centres). The first badges were awarded in January 2009, with the new Council for the Learning Outside the Classroom acting as the awarding body Organisations can register online at: www.lotcqualitybadge.org.uk/
The Quality Badge is available to all organisations providing learning outside the classroom experiences. There are two routes to the Quality Badge – the route an organisation takes to achieve the Quality Badge will be determined by the degree of risk management required to manage the activities offered.
Route 1 is for those organisations whose activities are considered relatively low-risk, such as environmental centres, art galleries, museums, visitor attractions and places of worship. Organisations applying through Route 1 will need to complete an online Self Evaluation Form to demonstrate that they have met a set of quality indicators; a sample of organisations will receive a quality assurance visit from a Quality Badge assessor.
Route 2 is for those organisations whose activities require a degree of technical knowledge and experience that are beyond the lay person, such as ensuring children are operating safely on a high ropes course, around livestock and farming equipment, or when entering rivers to make measurements. Residential and overseas visits are also included in Route 2, due to the unique risk management issues they present to teachers.
Providers proceeding through Route 2 must meet the same quality criteria as Route 1, but will also be assessed by the relevant awarding body. This is to ensure that they meet the quality indicators and have adequate safety management systems in place. There are five Route 2 awarding bodies: Access to Farms (ATF); Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee (AAIAC); Field Studies Council (FSC); School Travel Forum (STF); and Expedition Providers Association (EPA)
In October 2008 an Out and About package was launched to help teachers integrate more learning outside the classroom into the curriculum. Including advice, guidance, resources and training modules to support schools, colleges, early years’ providers and youth groups provide learning outside the classroom opportunities. It is available at www.lotc.org.uk. The package aims to breakdown barriers to pupils getting out and about – with ‘how to’ guidance, including planning learning into the curriculum and information on where to go and who can help.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom was launched in April 2009 and is the leading voice on learning outside the classroom issues.
2. The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit www.forestry.gov.uk/southeastengland.
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
For more information please contact:
Helen Wallace, education manager at Alice Holt Forest, Forestry Commission, tel: 01420 23666 or email: email@example.com