New scheme to help outdoors education

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The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has launched a pilot grants scheme to help pay for educational visits to the Cairngorms National Park.

Schools anywhere in Scotland, or voluntary and community educational groups within or close to the Park, can apply for up to £250 from the new Outdoor Learning Travel Grant Scheme.

The Cairngorms National Park is an excellent outdoor classroom and can be studied across the curriculum from biology and geography to art, history and even music. However, one of the barriers that teachers and groups face is the high cost of travel to or around the National Park.

A variety of educational resources has already been produced to support outdoor learning in the Cairngorms National Park with outdoor learning seen as a key approach to delivering the Curriculum for Excellence. However, educational providers are finding it difficult to pay for trips with budgets already stretched.

A similar scheme has been trialled in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and has proved extremely popular. For the Cairngorms National Park scheme the CNPA is contributing £2,500 with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) committing £1,250. Schools and groups can apply to the grants scheme for up to 75 per cent of the costs of travel.

Elspeth Grant, the CNPA’s education and inclusion officer explained: “The Outdoor Learning Travel Grant Scheme will help overcome one of the main barriers to outdoor learning for education providers in Scotland – travel costs! While any school in Scotland and any groups within or close to the Park boundary can apply, we aim to give priority to schools and groups from deprived areas, those who have not visited the Park before and groups who support people with disabilities, young people, ethnic minorities and those who experience economic disadvantage or health inequality.”

Pete Rawcliffe, SNH’s people and places unit manager, added: “Enjoying the outdoors through learning, volunteering and recreation is beneficial for health and well-being, as well as improving knowledge, skills and confidence.

“We are therefore delighted to be supporting this pilot scheme and the opportunities it will provide for new groups to come and see the many attractions the Park and its National Nature Reserves has to offer.”