More than 5,000 school kids have taken part in a free outdoor learning scheme in Newham, where many families struggle with high levels of deprivation.
The Outdoor Learning Programme, run by the City of London Corporation in West Ham Park, works with local primary schools to support the National Curriculum.
The scheme teaches life skills and wellbeing through nature and the environment.
Over the past year, children have taken part in activities including orienteering, maths trails, craft making, history role play, mud painting, gardening, and clay sculpturing.
Education officers from the City of London Corporation support Newham’s children with special educational needs (SEND) and disabilities with tailored sessions in the park’s wildlife garden.
The City Corporation runs the Outdoor Learning Programme across its green spaces.
The organisation manages over 11,000 acres of open space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath – and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile, investing over £38m a year.
The Outdoor Learning Programme connects Londoners to nature, develops values about caring for the environment, and enhances health and wellbeing.
It launched in 2016, and has reached nearly 200,000 Londoners, including school children, Grenfell families, young carers and children with autism.
Over 22,000 school pupils have participated in the scheme at West Ham Park alone.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s West Ham Park Committee, Caroline Haines, said:
“We work closely with local schools and teachers to build the most engaging outdoor learning programmes possible.
“We are helping children gain vital life skills, which is now more important than ever, because since the pandemic hit, they have faced months of isolation.
“We want to reach young people in communities across London, to help them connect with the natural world on their doorsteps.
“It helps us fight back against London’s inequality, because people in deprived areas of the capital face very real barriers to accessing nature.”
The City Corporation’s green spaces, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve.
They include important wildlife habitats, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves.