Outdoor education scheme at Houghton Hall receives lottery funding

editorial image

A thriving outdoor education scheme based at Houghton Hall has been awarded Heritage Lottery Funding towards a new project.

The BeLong programme –which will cost £73,000 – will be funded by a grant which is expected to cover 90 per cent of the initiative.

It will include practical workshops, research into the use of local materials, interactive sculpture trails and schools are invited to register their interest at: www.Belong

Lord Cholmondeley said: “I am delighted that The Sybil Charitable Trust has been awarded a grant by The Heritage Lottery Fund to run ‘BeLong’.

“My hope is that in time Houghton will become a must-see destination for those interested in contemporary art and sculpture and that schools will look on the Houghton Sculpture Garden as a valuable resource for learning and enjoyment.”

This year, Houghton Hall will host a major exhibition, including specially commissioned new works by British sculptor, Richard Long.

The exhibition, Land and Sky: Richard Long opens on April 30 and will continue until October 26. BeLong will run alongside the collaboration on 16 Tuesdays during term time.

Lord Cholmondeley first opened Houghton’s Estate to children 10 years ago to pilot a new approach to learning outdoors.

The programme, enabled by Norfolk Country Council, originated from Scandinavia, and is based on the principles that time, space and contact with the natural environment are key to a child’s overall development.

Twelve years on, the scheme has blossomed into a fully developed ongoing training programme.

Houghton Education, a joint initiative between the Estate, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk Wildlife Trust, is available to all schools in Norfolk and free travel, funded by a Cholmondeley family trust, is provided by mini-bus to those within a 20-mile radius.

About 10,000 children and more than 300 accompanying adults have participated in Woodland Learning at Houghton.

The children that took part in the first pilot scheme are now preparing to leave school this summer.

Lord Cholmondeley said: “I am proud that Houghton has provided and continues to provide an outdoor classroom to so many pupils across Norfolk.”

Litcham School headteacher Rob Martlew said: “We believe that giving children access to a range of learning styles and outside environments not only enhances their school experience but enables them to develop a love for nature and the environment.

Louise Ambrose, of Houghton Education, said: “Hundreds of teachers have undertaken Forest School training. It has provided an inspirational landscape for thousands of Norfolk’s children to explore, discover and share.”