Thursday, 05 July 2007 17:19

Countryside 'vital' to proper education

Written by  Ruralcity Media

ImageEducating youngsters about the environment is critical to preserving heritage as well as protecting the country’s future, schools minister Jim Knight has said.


Instilling in young people a love of the countryside was essential in helping them develop as responsible citizens, he told teachers.

Mr Knight was addressing delegates by video at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Rural Dimension Conference on 5 July.

A former rural affairs minister, Mr Knight said the challenges faced by rural communities and schools were very close to his heart. 

“While it’s the inner cities which often grab the headlines and the attention, the issues which rural schools are grappling with are no less tricky.”

Almost half of adults didn’t know that the raw ingredients for beer came from a field.

“It’s a serious concern that people associate their food with shiny supermarkets shelves, and not with the farmers and fields behind what they eat and drink.

“Raising awareness and getting people to think before they buy is an important step in promoting better nutrition, healthier lifestyles, and informed choices about food.”

Education was not just something picked up from a textbook by pupils from behind a desk – it had to be hands on and practical as well. 

A Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto was helping teachers think creatively about making the most of the world beyond the classroom door.

More than 500 organisations had signed up to help make learning beyond the classroom an integral part of every child’s education.   

“We think it’s as important to be working with parks and farms as with libraries and museums,” said Mr Knight.

Following a Key Stage 3 review, sustainable development would be given a much stronger focus in the curriculum.

“It will be covered as a key concept in the new style geography syllabus as well as given a stronger emphasis in subjects like citizenship and science.”

Many schools were already preparing to offer some of the first diplomas next year. 

A land-based and environmental diploma would help students develop both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

“We are working with employers and universities to ensure that this diploma could lead into either further study or a rewarding career,” said Mr Knight.

The full speech is available here.

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