An in-tents outdoor learning event for Sunderland primary youngsters

Headteacher at Hudson Road Primary School, Cathy Westgate, with pupils in one of the tents used to learn more about the great outdoors, with Anthony Reynolds of Reynolds Outdoor Centre and Councillor Ellen Ball.
Headteacher at Hudson Road Primary School, Cathy Westgate, with pupils in one of the tents used to learn more about the great outdoors, with Anthony Reynolds of Reynolds Outdoor Centre and Councillor Ellen Ball.
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Schoolchildren in Sunderland are learning more about the great outdoors with help from camping experts and ward councillors.

Sunderland City Council's East Area Committee has funded the ‘Camping Exchange Programme’ with access to grants, training and camping equipment available to all 24 schools, including tents.

It follows the success of a pilot project in neighbouring Easington where teachers and pupils at primary schools were loaned tents and taught how to put them up and look after a campsite.

School groups then camped out on their own playing fields to give children the experience of sleeping away from home in a tent overnight, and then on neighbouring schools' playing fields as confidence grew.

The project is designed to help encourage more children to get out into the fresh air and become involved in more outdoor education. Hundreds of pupils at the Wearside schools involved are learning new camping and team-working skills, and an awareness of how camping provides a great option for family holidays.

As well as improving individual self-confidence, leadership and problem solving skills it also helps schools with studying local history and geography which is part of their core curriculum.

Chairman of the East Area Committee, Councillor Ellen Ball, said: "The chance to spend nights under canvas, learn more outdoor and skills associated with camping are great opportunities for youngsters. Apart from the new experiences, everyone learns more transferable skills such as planning ahead when it comes to the weather or teamwork when you're cooking and putting your tent up.

"And, of course, camping can also be experience that can be a lot of fun."

Catherine Scott, a teacher at Hill View Infants, which is taking part in the project, said: "We have used the tent to create an outdoor space for the children where they can learn more about local nature and wildlife.

“Everyone seems to really enjoy being outside under canvas in the fresh air, and next year we plan to buy more tents and set up a camping club for children and their families.”

Headteacher at Hudson Road Primar, Cathy Westgate, said: "The children have really enjoyed discovering the joys of camping and exploring outdoors.

"The reception children have loved being in the tent in the wild part of their outdoor area. We have used the tents as a base camp for our treasure hunt, and Key Stage Two pupils have been learning how to put up a tent which is great for their teamwork skills."