• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

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Bellingham Middle School students scoop two national awards thanks to The Sill

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 13.14.02Pupils at Bellingham Middle School have achieved two national awards after successfully completing an arts and environmental pilot programme. The project was led by Northumberland National Park as part of a range of new educational activities connected to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre.

The group of 28 nine and ten-year-olds worked towards the ‘John Muir Award’ and the ‘Explore Arts Award’ by taking part in a variety of arts and conservation activities linked to the landscape and ecology of Northumberland National Park.

To achieve the acclaimed John Muir Award, the children were required to discover, explore, conserve and share a wild place local to them. The award encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places.

The Explore Arts Award aims to get children and young people to discover the arts around them by studying local artists and sharing their experiences and understanding with others. The Explore Arts Award scheme is managed by Trinity College London and Arts Council England.

The students worked with engagement officers and rangers from Northumberland National Park over a six week period to successfully complete both awards.

The group explored Hareshaw Linn, a site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI) in the Park and took part in workshops to learn a variety of new skills including tree identification and measuring, orienteering, and bush crafts, which involved whittling traditional instruments from wood, building shelters and survival skills in the wilderness.

The activity culminated in the group making a conservation area within the school grounds and building nesting habitats for insects and small mammals.

They also visited the Kim Lewis exhibition at Bellingham Heritage Centre to see the work of the Northumberland-based author and children’s book illustrator.

The group then used their experiences to work with local artist; Clare Armstrong, to create an artistic display in school and make their own story and picture books inspired by the different environments and wild places in the Park.

Caroline Cope, engagement officer at Northumberland National Park, said: “Our latest partnership with Bellingham Middle School is one of many exciting and inspiring educational engagement activities we’re doing connected with The Sill.

“We believe that young people should have the opportunity to enjoy learning experiences in wild places. A dual educational award scheme like this will help schools across the region and beyond to make use of the National Park to deliver mainstream education subjects using real-life examples to inform and inspire.

“We thoroughly enjoyed working with the children at Bellingham Middle School on this project. Their energy, commitment and enthusiasm were fantastic and I’d like to congratulate them on their achievement.

“The Sill activity programme, is really gathering pace now. Even though the new building itself will not open until 2017, there are plenty of opportunities for all ages to get involved with The Sill and the National Park today.”

Anna Veitch, year five teacher at Bellingham Middle School, said: “The children have taken part in a fantastic range of fun activities to complete both awards. I’m very proud of them and would like to thank Caroline and the engagement team at the National Park for giving us the opportunity to take part.

“Such links enhance the curriculum, bringing a real-life application and purpose to studies, at a young age. The project has really helped to broaden their outlook and understanding of the world and nature around them.

“Interactive educational experiences like this teach children about our natural landscapes, their significance and the importance of conservation and protecting it for the future.”

The Sill was awarded £7.75 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). This is the biggest HLF grant awarded to a national park as well as one of the largest grants awarded in the North East region in recent years.

By admin