Learning Through the Land

The Learning from the Land pilot programme sought to enable young people of all backgrounds across County Durham to engage in heritage countryside management practices and crafts that have been vital to the region. The programme aimed to promote and develop young people’s involvement within the countryside heritage skills sector, rejuvenating traditional skills and increasing awareness amongst young people.
Learning from the Land was funded by:
The Ernest Cook Trust £6,152
Durham County Council Sustainability Fund £2,000

OASES (Outdoor And Sustainability Education Specialists) delivered the programme alongside CEED (Community Environmental Educational Developments) to 4 secondary schools across County Durham:
North Durham Academy
Wolsingham School
Bishop Barrington School
Framwellgate School Durham
Support was also kindly provided by site owners including: Durham Wildlife Trust and Durham County Council.

Each school was provided with a list of suggested session themes (see Appendix 1). The schools then worked with the OASES/CEED staff to decide what heritage countryside management practices and crafts each session should cover. The session themes were consequently heavily influenced by the student/schools interests. The schools chose as follows:
North Durham Academy were aspiring to develop an orchard within their grounds, hence they tailored their programme around associated heritage countryside skills. As a result the students: constructed a Willow fedge around the orchard; made Willow baskets in which to collect their fruit; completed orchard design and planting activities; learnt about tree management; had a go at apple scratting and pressing.
Wolsingham School were keen to explore some of the traditional heritage management practices used within their immediate locality hence the school chose to: visit a local homestead to learn the history behind and art of drystone walling; travel to a local woodland (once a colliery site) to learn about woodland management practice.
Bishop Barrington School is located within a suburban area so the school chose to take the students to the nearby Low Barnes Nature Reserve to learn about tree felling, thinning and coppicing. At the Low Barnes site the students also learnt how to split wood. This split wood was used in a later session to create signs using the art of pyrography. This school also wanted their students to learn about tree/hedge planting and orchard design.
Framwellgate School Durham is located next to Pity Me Carrs. OASES/CEED liaised with Durham County Council’s Countyside Team to enable the students to: complete the necessary Willow coppicing and habitat pile creation on the site. The students also: created formers for Willow hurdles; weaved Willow hurdles; installed their Willow hurdles on the school site.

The project was a huge success and inspired some of the young people to consider careers in heritage skills and environmental conservation.

“The students seemed to thoroughly enjoy the sessions and got a lot of out the experience. I only heard really positive things.” Chris Ramshaw (teacher at Wolsingham School)
Outdoor and Sustainability Education Service
The EWE Centre,
Esh Winning Primary School
The Wynds, Esh Winning,
Durham, DH7 9BE