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Stackyard News Nov 05

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    Preston College Congratulated On Countryside Education Initiative

There is a growing need to engage young people throughout England with rural issues and the natural environment, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight said on a visit to Lancashire.

Mr Knight visited Myerscough College in Preston, where he formally opened a new Schools and Countryside Interpretation Centre and talked to staff and schoolchildren who have been working in the centre and enjoying its resources.

Mr Knight said: "As the gulf between England's rural and urban communities increasingly widens, it is more important than ever that we find new ways of engaging young people with their rural environment.

"Projects like the Schools and Countryside Interpretation Centre will enable teachers to see farming and the countryside not just as areas of study in their own right, but as the basis for activities right across the curriculum.

"This is vital if we are to preserve our valued rural heritage - and ensure that the countryside remains a viable place to live and work in the future."

Myerscough college is widely recognised as a centre of excellence for rural studies. The new centre is a unique resource which will act as a gateway for pupils and teachers alike to the facilities and knowledge held at the college, whether they are working towards a specific qualification or using its facilities to engage with science-based aspects of the National Curriculum.

The centre supports the Government's Rural Manifesto, which contains a clear commitment to reconnecting school children with farming, the countryside and wildlife.

"As rural land use changes, we recognise the need for the countryside to be perceived not just as the place where our food comes from - but as a place for leisure and recreation, which supports biodiversity and enhances our quality of life," he said.

To help achieve this, Defra and its agencies have been working with Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), a public-private sector partnership which provides practical learning resources to schools and colleagues across the UK, works with farmers to enable practical visits to the countryside and commissions research. FACE has been assisting Defra in the delivery of key policy areas, ranging from Climate Change to Biodiversity and Sustainable Rural Communities.

Myerscough College also works in close partnership with FACE. Katy Roberts, the College's Schools Development Manager works for FACE as a Regional Education Coordinator. Katy is also the Food and Countryside Educational Initiative Officer for the North West, helping schools and colleges across the region to integrate countryside and farming topics into the National Curriculum.

link Government Invests Over £100 Million to Preserve and Support Our Rural Heritage
link Rural Funding To Become More Flexible, Says Minister
link Defra Helps Northumberland Farmer Plant Seed For New "Green" Business

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Department for Environment
Food and Rural Affairs