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Learning about the environment is child’s play for two Stratford schools, thanks to Orbit’s funding.

Orbit is supporting an initiative in Stratford-upon-Avon which has seen pupils from primary schools across the district take part in learning outside the classroom – something which they never thought would be possible during the coronavirus pandemic.

Isla and Elfric, both aged 10 and in Y6 at Thomas Jolyfee School pictured with their teacher Emily Holmes (2nd row, right), Cheryl Flavell, Placemaking and Partnerships Manager at Orbit (3rd row, right), Kate Evans, Graduate Planet (4th row, left) and Andy Train from Bells Boats (back, right).

Graduate Planet, a community interest company (CIC) based in Warwick, arranged for all Y5 and Y6 pupils from the schools to take part in the initiative to visit the River Avon and learn about environmental sustainability. As a CIC / social enterprise company, Graduate Planet reinvests all its profit into projects that address climate change.

Throughout various dates in September, the children have boated down the river and been taught by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust about water conservation, pollution and river wildlife.

Kate Evans, Director of Graduate Planet, explained: “This comes at a very apt time when children’s anxiety and mental health issues are extremely high following the isolation caused through Covid and the return to school after such a long absence.

“This is a really big event in the Covid calendar because many schools are not going out on trips this term at all and not receiving any workshops or visitors into the school. But we have had permission to allow these trips to go ahead, allowing the children to have fun together in their bubbles in a safe, outdoor environment.”

This activity has been created as part of Graduate Planet’s Stratford School Sustainability Programme. Orbit funds three schools in this programme, including Thomas Jolyffe School which attended the river event on 22 September. There are seven events planned in total as part of this programme and schools receive classroom resources and lesson plans to consolidate what they have learnt.

Cheryl Flavell, Placemaking & Partnerships Manager at Orbit, added: “We fund three schools as part of Graduate Planet’s Stratford School Sustainability Programme, including Thomas Jolyffe School which attended today, and it was lovely to see first-hand how Orbit’s funding is a making such a positive difference to the pupils’ learning. Life is very strange for everyone at the moment, but it is especially trying for children, particularly those who suffer from anxiety and low mental health. This is a really fun way for them to learn about an important subject while enjoying time out of the classroom at the same time.”

The schools which have taken part in the river learning activity are: Bishopton*, Stratford Primary, St Greggs, Holy Trinity and Thomas Jolyffe*. [*these schools receive funding from Orbit to take part Graduate Planet’s Stratford School Sustainability Programme].