'Outstanding' week of John Muir Award activity

Shropshire Hills partnership uses our engagement initiative in its celebration of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

St marys primary outstanding week detail

Outstanding Week (17-25 September) is a programme of events to celebrate the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Celebrations started much sooner in Shropshire. Over the summer and autumn terms, staff from the Shropshire Hills AONB and Shropshire Wildlife Trust worked with St Marys CE Primary School in Bucknell to deliver the John Muir Discovery Award to pupils and staff in upper Key Stage two classes.

Throughout their activity participants were immersed in the rich biodiversity the AONB, learning about the importance of its habitats and exploring the ancient oak woodlands and river valleys of south Shropshire. They took part in tree planting, coppicing, walks, hikes and guided talks, surveying, mammal trapping and monitoring.

Accessing wild places right on their doorstep provided ideas and inspiration to develop stories, poems, music and art, culminating in a ‘Sharing Day’ to which friends and families were also invited.

Success, both academic and personal, is something the school readily celebrates, helping children to develop their self-confidence and performance in school.  Both out in the Shropshire Hills AONB and within their beautiful and extensive grounds, children learn first-hand about the riches of the natural environment while developing important life skills such as team work, problem solving and resilience.

“We believe that time at school should be filled with inspirational and unforgettable outdoor learning experiences,” says Anna Cook, Headteacher at St Mary’s CE Primary School. “St Mary’s is a highly creative school, which believes in learning by doing and experiencing, ensuring memorable learning.”

“The success of this John Muir Award activity is underpinned by the partnership approach developed between the school, the Shropshire Hills AONB and other supporting partners,” explains Phil Stubbington, John Muir Award England & Wales Manager.

“It provides opportunities for the school and its pupils to access and learn more about the fantastic wild places right on their doorstep, while adding expertise, value and confidence to the excellent curriculum provision already established at the school.”

There are 46 AONBs (33 in England, four in Wales, one which straddles the English/Welsh border and eight in Northern Ireland) covering 18 per cent of our countryside. (Scotland has a separte designation called National Scenic Areas).

 Find out what events are happening during the AONB Outstanding Week, 17-25 September here.