Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s Youth and Schools Service has been awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge for the third time for their extensive outdoor education offer.

LOtC Quality Badge, which is awarded every two years, is a national award and benchmark combining the essential elements of outdoor education provision - good quality educational experiences and effective risk management. It is an easily recognisable and trusted accreditation scheme for all types of learning outside the classroom throughout the UK. The scheme is managed and developed by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. (http://lotcqualitybadge.org.uk/)

The award assessment was carried out by Tony Thomas CBE, ex CEO of the Field Studies Council, who was particularly interested in the scale of Lee Valley’s operations and the disadvantaged schools Youth and Schools had engaged through the Community Access Fund.

Kelly-Sue Axford, Senior Youth and Schools Officer said: “This is a real success story for us as it allows us to be able to continue to deliver and showcase our high quality and diverse education provision to all schools within the region. Being assessed by a leading practitioner in the field provided a great opportunity for us to gain feedback on our work.”

Karen Wheeler, Youth and Schools Manager at Lee Valley Regional Park Authority added: “We have used the Community Access Fund across the region to give free transport to schools which had previously not experienced our 10,000 acre classroom and which would struggle financially to cover coach costs.

“Throughout the year our 10,000 acre classroom provides a wealth of hands-on opportunities to engage over 22,000 students. Learning opportunities include sensory safaris, plant classification challenges, rivers walks, orienteering competitions, minibeast hunting and working dairy farm visits.”

Essex schools are advised to use badged providers and it reduces the paperwork burden on most schools, helping encourage them to visit.

Many opportunities are provided by the Youth and Schools service, which include activities such as river studies, dairy farm visits, sensory safaris, minibeast hunting, history programmes and GPS orienteering. The team also offer design and technology activities at Lee Valley VeloPark, which was the London 2012 track cycling and BMX venue in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, plus geography at Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross, where Team GB won gold and silver in the London 2012 canoe slalom event. 

The Community Access Fund was created to help access to the park for schools, the community, special needs and youth groups that would otherwise be precluded by cost. This funding covers the full travel costs to attend a Lee Valley Regional Park outdoor learning session and the groups pay only the session charges.

All sessions are led by experienced staff and all Youth and Schools tutors are Makaton trained.

For more information about the different programmes options available for all ages and abilities go to: visitleevalley.org.uk/education