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Lecturer meets with MP George Eustice to discuss Nature Premium Campaign

Published: 12th October 2020

An Early Years lecturer from Cornwall College has met virtually with MP George Eustice to discuss the importance of the Nature Premium Campaign.

Lecturer Sharon Friend contacted her local MP George Eustice, in his role as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The Nature Premium Campaign is calling for funding for early learning settings and schools, to provide regular nature experiences for every child.

“I spoke as a mum with children at a local primary school, as a HE Lecturer in Children, Young People and Health and as a Forest School leader,” Sharon explained.

“All schools in England have a sports premium and the Nature Premium Campaign is proposing a similar set up, having money ring-fenced so young people can access nature.”

“There are so many benefits to young people spending time in nature and once they have an interest in it, they are more likely to want to protect it.” Sharon continued.

Studies show that a regular connection to nature supports children’s mental and physical well-being, leading to improved learning, as well as addressing obesity levels by encouraging physical activity, building vitamin D levels and boosting immune systems to fight infection.

Sharon, who is currently doing her PhD on the subject of Forrest School, said Mr Eustice was “very interested in the campaign” and “completely understands the link between education and nature”.

“He was extremely supportive during our conversation and he will be talking to his colleagues in education about a way forward.” Sharon added.

The Nature Premium model would enable Head Teachers to support outdoor learning and all its benefits without having the issue of limited resources. A premium would help fulfil a curriculum requirement from the Ofsted framework and allow schools to bring in Forest School and Outdoor Learning experts who can facilitate nature connection.

Curriculum Area Manager for Children, Young People and Health and Social Care at Cornwall College Camborne and St Austell, Laetitia Mayne, said this campaign is “especially relevant in today’s climate of mental health.”

“It is so important to encourage students to spend time outside and to enjoy nature and reconnect to it. We encourage all of our students to do this.”

“The benefits are extremely far reaching; it can help young people feel refreshed, calm, relaxed and provide them with more happiness and less anxiety,” Laetitia explained.

“On our Children, Young People and Health and Social Care courses at The Cornwall College Group we have a strong emphasis on outdoor learning.”

To explore the Cornwall College Virtual Open Day site with plenty of information and videos on courses and college life, please visit www.virtual.cornwall.ac.uk

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# GeorgeEustice # MP # earlyyears # naturepremiumcampaign # forestschool

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16-19, University, Children, Schools & Families, Cornwall College

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