With Northumberland National Park’s Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre opening to the public this summer, its education programme has received a £10k boost from Sir James Knott Trust.
The grant is supporting the development and delivery of The Sill Partnership Schools Programme. The initiative combines classroom learning with a range of workshops connected to nature, history, arts and conservation which are delivered within the National Park by a dedicated team of engagement and education officers.
A pilot of the three-year programme is currently underway with eight primary and middle schools from rural and urban locations across Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.
Sarah Glynn, Sill Manager, explains: “We are delighted to have the support of Sir James Knott Trust for The Sill Partnership Schools Programme. Whilst Northumberland National Park welcomes an impressive 1.4 million people annually, we’ve also experienced an 11% decline in the number of young people visiting since 2007.
“We firmly believe that a strong and diverse education programme is critical in re-engaging young people with our landscapes. The educational and personal development benefits to youngsters connecting with the outdoors are limitless. It’s our aim to use the Park’s amazing landscapes to contribute to the curriculum and inspire a new generation of landscape and nature enthusiasts.
“The Sill is the focal point of our ambitious activity programme which is being delivered across the entire National Park and beyond. Since 2015, we’ve already engaged more than 26,000 people through activities and events, including educational activities, public events and training.
“We want to build on this through the education programme and the creation of strong working relationships with the teaching community to ensure every aspect is highly relevant and engaging to meet the needs of the schools and guarantee the best educational and personal outcomes for their pupils.”
Spearheaded by Northumberland National Park Authority and supported by a range of partners and funders, including the YHA and a £7.8 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre, will be a visitor attraction like no other.
Situated in the Hadrian’s Wall area of the National Park, it has been developed in partnership with people in the community and will help more people to access and learn about the incredible landscapes, geography and habitats within Northumberland National Park.
Sir James Knott Trust is an independent, grant making charitable trust based in Newcastle upon Tyne. It supports community projects in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham which aim to improve the conditions of people living and working in the North East of England.
In addition to its £10k education grant, Sir James Knott Trust also donated £50,000 to the capital phase of The Sill project.
Vivien Stapley, Trust Secretary, said: “The Trust is a long-standing supporter of The Sill project and is delighted to assist with Northumberland National Park Authority’s exciting plans to use its landscape, heritage, and cultural assets to deliver learning and experiential opportunities for young people throughout the region.”
Schools currently taking part in the first stage of The Sill Partnership Schools programme are Hexham Middle, Northburn Primary, Shaftoe Trust Primary, Branton Primary, Greenhaugh First School, Harbottle Primary, Broomley First School and Hawthorn Primary.
The workshop sessions for young people are diverse. They include investigating wildlife habitats and learning about animals that live in the Park, river investigations using science to get hands-on in a river in the National Park and learn how rivers shape the landscape.
Art in the Park takes inspiration from the land and local artists. Pupils can create their own piece of art in a medium of their choice. The Time Detectives’ workshop focuses on history and archaeology from Stone Age cup and ring marks to Iron Age Hillforts and Poems in the Air, inspired by Simon Armitage, uses poetry to describe landscapes to write, record and perform poems and stories.
Tony Hall, Assistant Head Teacher at Northburn Primary School in Cramlington, said: “We really enjoyed our planning visit from the staff and look forward to sharing with our pupils the resources and expertise the project offers. Being able to work together on a range of cross-curricular themes will add to our developing outdoor curriculum, and support the engagement of pupils with new ideas and new environments.”