The conclusion of the school year last week brought an end to a five-month outdoor study programme carried out by Year 10 students at Stour Valley Community School at Clare Castle Country Park.
The pupils engaged in teambuilding exercises and learned about river management, use of tools and outdoor cooking, among other activities, under the guidance of former countryside officer Neil Catchpole, who helps to manage the park.
“It was a great pleasure, once again, to work with the staff and students from the school,” said Mr Catchpole.
“Especially rewarding was the willow coppicing task when, after basic instruction, the students were able to organise themselves into a hard-working team, cutting the willow and bundling it up using the knots I had shown them, without any further help or interference from me.
“True teamwork showed how far their skills and co-operation with each other developed over the course of their time in the park.”
The project was part of the park’s wider programme of activities designed for students aged 10 to 16, which helps them understand how the countryside needs to be managed to create habitats and enhance wildlife.
Kate Terry, trustee of Clare Castle Country Park, said: ‘It’s all part of the process of getting out of the normal classroom environment and actively working within the countryside.
“Students have really benefitted from working with skilled countrymen like Neil Catchpole to understand how to manage the countryside sensitively and enjoy working collaboratively with others.”