The Prince's Foundation The Prince's Foundation

Journal 23 April 2021

Reconnecting with Nature

“Learning from nature is at the very heart of all the education programmes offered by The Prince’s Foundation here at Dumfries House and, as we begin to emerge from lockdown, access to nature has never been more important for school pupils,” explains residential centre manager Richard Kay.

“Helping school pupils establish a connection to nature through outdoor education will not only help them build their mental wellbeing back up, but will also assist them in reforging peer relationships after so many months away from the school environment and life as they know it.”

The 2000-acre Dumfries House estate is the ideal outdoor classroom for school groups looking to reconnect with nature while learning about sustainability. Nestled among expansive woodland, a mixture of purpose-built and converted outbuildings provide a home for a wide array of education programmes that aim to transform lives, champion sustainability, and preserve traditional heritage craft skills that are increasingly at risk of being lost as workers typically reach retirement age.

From May, The Prince’s Foundation will once again welcome school pupils to Dumfries House estate to engage in a variety of hands-on day workshops, all of which have sustainability and learning from nature at their core.

Among the facilities available to visiting school pupils is an outdoor classroom, a ten-stage obstacle course, Valentin’s Education Farm, an archery range and the Pierburg Building and Kauffman Education Gardens, which together provide an engaging introduction to gardening, food production, sustainable practices and the use of fresh produce.

“Understanding where food comes from, and seeing it first-hand, gives pupils the knowledge they need to make responsible decisions that will improve the planet,” explains Arianne Knowles, food, farming and horticulture education manager. “Our Field To Fork and Farm To Fork workshops enable pupils and teachers to better understand what sustainability means in practice, and have been specifically developed to supplement the Curriculum For Excellence.”

The estate’s STEM manager Jo Dempster adds: “As Scotland gets ready to host COP26 this year, and following the pandemic, many pupils are more engaged than ever in learning about the ways in which they can play their part in creating a more sustainable planet.”

“Our STEM workshops highlight the science solutions that come from, and work for nature. Workshops in our environmental science theme have been specifically developed to improve pupils’ understanding of current environmental issues.” A wide variety of workshops are now available for booking, ranging from Field To Fork and Scientists At Work to Sustainable Fashion. Workshops can be adapted to suit primary or high school pupils (up to S3), with the exception of fashion and textiles, which is for secondary school pupils only. All workshops can be altered to support specific curriculum areas such as biology, home economics, art, or physical education.

To book, teachers are invited to email with their chosen dates and preferred curriculum area.