Students from Ispley CE Academy in Redditch and Aston Fields Middle School in Bromsgrove have received financial sponsorship from children’s charity the Oakland Foundation which has enabled them to take part in a 10-week course at the Bonterre Project, based at Top Barn Farm in Holt Heath, throughout the summer term.
Oakland Foundation Trustee, Pete Vaughan, explained: “By providing financial support we can give school students the opportunity to take part in the Bonterre Project and experience a vast array of positive activities and tasks which both support and aid personal and social engagement, as well as providing them with a rewarding educational experience.”
Designed to improve life skills and personal resilience through engagement in the ‘Living Land’ programme, the Bonterre Project works with children to develop relationships, increase personal motivation and self-confidence by taking part in a range of agricultural activities and tasks such as sowing seeds, planting, harvesting and animal care, through to fishing, carpentry, rowing, wildlife and environmental awareness, Celtic roundhouse construction, lighting fires, cooking in the open as well as developing ‘bush-craft’ skills.
Bonterre manager, Mike Stringer, commented: “It has been a real pleasure working with the four students this year. We hope they have had fun and learned some new skills that will help them achieve a smooth and successful transition to High School in September. We are very grateful for the generosity of the Oakland Foundation and their continued support of the work we do.”
The Foundation’s financial sponsorship enabled the school’s students and their teaching assistants to attend the project, covering the cost of transport to and from Bonterre and the food and project materials needed for the range of activities and tasks undertaken, such as providing the seeds and compost, plants and timber.
Nicola Beech, Ipsley CE Academy Principal, stated: “We continue to be grateful for the additional opportunities our pupils receive through support from the Oakland Foundation. Pupils gain so much from spending time learning outside of the usual school environment and this project has made a real difference to the young people involved.”
Aston Fields Middle School Assistant Headteacher, Carole Teer, added: “The support offered by Oakland Foundation has, once again, given two of our Year 8 pupils the opportunity to improve life skills and develop their resilience to every day challenges as they begin their transition to high school in September. On their own reflection, both boys commented that the opportunity to work with the experienced staff at “Bonterre” and pupils from other schools, has enabled them to develop relationships which in turn, has increased their motivation and self-confidence. Liam and Harvey, both aged 13, said the experience at “Bonterre” has helped them back in school too, by giving them belief in themselves.”
The Oakland Foundation supports children living in Redditch and Bromsgrove and the surrounding area through their work in the areas of Health and Nutrition, Education and Sport.