From gamekeeping to beekeeping, to bushcraft and renewable energy – the Englefield Estate was transformed into a countryside classroom for more than 1,500 youngsters hungry to learn about the rural world around them.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the annual School Days event was, once again, a great success as schoolchildren from 34 primary schools in Berkshire enjoyed activities focussed on farming, forestry and horticulture.
The Countryside Days for Schools began in 1997, as the Estate wanted to give young children a positive experience of the countryside and a chance to see the wide range of rural activities that take place there. Since 1997 the event has grown and is now focused on the theme of sustainability and has strong links to the national curriculum.
Dr Liz Mattison, Education and Environment Officer at Englefield Estate was delighted to hear that the organisations who attended said it was the best year ever and just how enjoyable it was for all the youngsters present.
“It was wonderful to celebrate 25 years of School Days and I hope there will be many more years ahead,” said Liz.
“All the children were really attentive, engaged and polite. You can see in their faces that there is a real passion to learn about the countryside.”
Across the two days, pupils had the chance to get involved in a host of activities that took place in the grounds of Englefield House, as well as the deer park and the village.
Many key rural topics are covered, including farming, habitats and wildlife, community, health and wellbeing, renewable energy, water quality and history. The Schools Days event is a key part of the Estate’s ongoing commitment to community engagement and collaboration.
Estate staff worked alongside a range of organisations and willing volunteers to deliver the two-day programme of activities. Organisations included, Thames Water, Action for the River Kennet, Butterfly Conservation and the National Gamekeepers Organisation Educational Trust.
“It is wonderful how, each year, we are able to call on such a wealth of knowledge and expertise to give the children a truly engaging experience. I cannot thank them all enough for their support,” added Liz.
Feedback from the participating schools has been extremely positive too. Rosie Hayward, a teacher from Alexander First School in Windsor said her children had called it ‘the best school trip ever’.
“We had an amazing day and can’t wait to come back next year. It was so well organised,” said Rosie.