National Parks visits on school curriculum

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Visiting National Parks is to become part of the school curriculum under Government plans announced today.


Plan to make English landscape part of children's national identity

The moves come as new figures reveal how only 10 per cent of schoolchildren have ‘access to outdoor learning’, despite over half the population living within an hour of a National Park.

The Plan for National Parks, unveiled by environment secretary Liz Truss, is a bid to safeguard England’s iconic landscapes and keep them central to our national identity.

It is also hoped that a boost in nature-based activity from a young age will soothe a stressed nation. 

One strand of the campaign involves engaging children from primary school onwards, drawing in more than 80,000 young people.

At secondary school, there is an aim to double the number of youth volunteers in National Parks as part of the National Citizen Service.

Later in the educational journey, a new apprenticeship standard is also being established to double placements in National Parks by 2020.

Ms Truss aims to build annual visitor numbers to 100 million, which could bring an estimated £440 million more to local businesses and add to the £4 billion already generated by National Parks.

Speaking as she launched the new plan in the South Downs National Park, she said, ‘National Parks already welcome over 90 million visitors every year and make a major contribution to our vibrant rural economy – but too many children in our country are not aware of these natural wonders.

‘I want to celebrate our inspiring natural environment so more visitors than ever before can enjoy the majestic Lakes, tranquil Northumberland, and the wide open spaces of the South Downs.

‘Just as Yellowstone is known worldwide as one of America's national treasures, our beautiful lakes and dales, moors and fells are a symbol of this country, part of our British identity – they are also huge public assets that should benefit as many people as possible.

By instilling a love of nature in our young people and building thriving communities in every National Park, our plan will allow these unique spaces to flourish for generations to come.’

The Government protected National Parks’ budgets in the last spending review, committing over £350 million for English National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and forests.

Along with work already underway to give schools in England one million native British trees to plant in their communities, the plans are intended to connect children with nature and the environment, reducing ‘anxiety, stress and depression’.

Margaret Paren, chair of South Downs National Park, said, ‘We sit right on the doorstep of more than 800 schools across Sussex and Hampshire and are already supporting teachers to use the landscapes and past and current thriving communities of the South Downs National Park to inspire and help 74,000 pupils across the entire curriculum to reconnect with nature.’


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