Countryside Skills

Our Countryside Skills course empowers young people to make positive choices for themselves through practical, hands-on outdoor activities such as improving wildlife habitats and working with farm animals. 

Accredited by Open College Network (OCN) Credit4Learning, it rewards learners with life skills, self-esteem and new experiences, providing a route to qualifications for pupils who can find the traditional academic environment challenging.

This is a flexible and scalable programme that can be adapted to the needs of your group.

Programme details

Cost: £16 per student per session (minimum session charge £128)

Staff: Each group is led by two trained members of Earth Trust staff along with a prearranged number of school staff or youth workers. Our staff are first aid trained and DBS checked, and have experience of working with young people with SEND.

Duration: Sessions typically run weekly and are 2-3 hours long.

What does it offer? 

Level E: Entry level, for those who require significant support with learning
Level 1: Equivalent to GCSE grade D-G
Level 2: Equivalent to GCSE grade A-C

Who would benefit from the course? 

Countryside Skills is for pupils who:

  • Have expressed an interest in outside work and would like to find out more about the opportunities available to them and to gain a qualification
  • Have struggled in a classroom setting for any number of reasons, including learning difficulties and challenging behaviour
  • Would benefit from developing a sense of personal achievement and confidence building

Full programme

The full OCN course lasts between one and three years, depending on the needs of the learners. This provides young people with the chance to develop life skills as they assist with practical tasks at Earth Trust through the seasons. They will gain a range of new skills from using tools safely and accurately, assessing risk and team work. 

There are four units to complete: 

  1. Health & Safety and Personal Development 
  2. Leisure and Recreation 
  3. Animal Husbandry 
  4. Planting and Woodland Management 

Activities include building bird boxes, map reading, planting and coppicing trees, lighting and cooking on a fire and assisting the shepherd during the lambing season. At the end of the course students will have built up a portfolio of work and experiences and will have completed the four units.

Short programme

Not all groups are able to come for a whole year or more so we have developed a programme of shorter activities that still fulfill the aims of Countryside Skills but do not offer the full qualification. Examples include: 

  • 3 weeks of coppicing and hedgelaying
  • 10 sessions spread over a school year 
  • 4 sessions focused on tree care and forest management

Countryside Skills was devised by Earth Trust in partnership with local schools Hill End Outdoor Learning and the Pennyhooks Autistic Care Farm Project.

It was developed thanks to generous funding from: 

  • The Adrian Swire Charitable Trust 
  • Childwick Trust 
  • CLA Charitable Trust 
  • D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust 
  • Lord Barnby’s Foundation 
  • Lord Faringdon Charitable Trust 
  • Mr & Mrs JA Pye’s Charitable Settlement 
  • Peter Harrison Foundation