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High Weald Heroes (HWH) is a primary school education programme which aims to connect children with their local landscape heritage, increasing their sense of place and enabling them and the wider school community to learn about, value, access and care for the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The programme is based around a concept, ‘High Weald Heroes’ and 5 actions: Find Out About, Explore, Take Care of, Be Proud of and Enjoy. The actions are proactive and non-prescriptive leaving teachers and pupils room for discussion and creativity in their achievement. There are currently 80 High Weald Hero schools, 50 of which have developed Welly Walks (circular walks from the school gate). On average the Education Officer (0.6FTE) delivers 50 events – approximately 1800 learning sessions to 25 schools – per annum.
Schools are invited to become a HWH school through the head teacher and HWH is launched to teachers through an introductory information/training session and the wider community through a whole school High Weald assembly (where schools are awarded a HWH plaque). Schools then have responsibility for developing and delivering their own High Weald Heroes programme. They can develop their own projects, draw on the support package offered by the Partnership or draw on resources offered by other educational providers. Normally they develop a school programme which combines all three according to their needs. This approach means that the High Weald Hero activities that schools undertake extend well beyond those which are offered and supported by the Partnership’s Education officer.
The Education officer offers a ‘pick and mix’ package that can be tailored to the individual school or teacher’s needs. It includes wide-ranging education resources (many of which are supplied when the school joins) plus themed assemblies, themed lessons, teacher training and the development and delivery of a Welly Walk (a short circular walk from the schools gate using local R.O.W.). Creation of a Welly Walk is most popular with schools and involves an indoor mapping workshop, walking the route with a class or classes, production of a walks leaflet, a launch assembly and a whole school walk. Many walks, once developed, are used by schools on a regular basis.
For a 3-year period, with HLF funding, the package was extended to include High Weald-themed drama workshops, art workshops and ‘songs and sounds’ workshops which were developed and delivered by other education providers working with the education officer.
Education resources that have been produced include: videos of historical characters, school-specific map sets (O.S, tithe, historic features), High Weald I-Spy booklet and other themed spotter sheets, online historic timeline and historic artefact handling boxes, activity cards for use in outdoor learning, themed lesson plans and a 10-week After-school Club Pack.
A topic web has been created that shows teachers how the offered package can link to National Curriculum topics.
Since the project started 80 primary schools have been engaged and 50 circular walks (leaflets) created.
The programme was initiated by a former primary school teacher working for the Partnership in another capacity and was initially (5 years) delivered by trained primary school teachers. Their knowledge of the school day, national curriculum targets and lesson planning and delivery was invaluable in developing an offer that worked. Every school/teacher is different and key to success is being non-prescriptive, offering a ‘pick and mix’ of activities so that teachers can select the activities that fit their term theme and curriculum focus and making it easy!
Developing a Welly Walk has been the most popular activity and with the limited resources currently available to deliver the programme encouraging use of existing welly walks for different curriculum topics, and creating new walks, is a focus.
The current offer is more tailored to KS2 and evolution to meet KS1 needs would enable the whole school to embrace the programme more easily.
Ongoing and regular communication with a named contact at each school is essential and due to teacher turnover there is sometimes a need to relaunch the programme/Welly Walks within a school.
01424 723014, [email protected]
Quote from project manager
“This scheme is a very popular and cost-effective way of involving the area’s children with the countryside on their doorstep leaving welly walks as a long term and sustainable legacy” Gerry Sherwin, AONB Business Manager
Quote from participant
“The scheme is openly available to High Weald schools. The resources are excellent and easy to access. The High Weald is history on the doorstep that is easy to access and the resources support this. The staff are friendly and extremely helpful and work well with the children” Bewbush Primary School
Key search words: Education, schools, community, walks
Photo credits: High Weald AONB.