Most asked: Jonathan Dean, Education Officer

March 1, 2017

Are you a teacher?

I have worked as a primary school teacher in central London and have also taught in outdoor education for several years. Working in both sectors has helped me understand how educators outside the classroom can support teachers to make the most of the learning opportunities in their local area.

Will you come and teach my class?

If you want to learn why the South Downs is a National Park and how it is managed, I run a small selection of sessions covering these topics, find out more on our website.

There are over 100 learning outside the classroom providers spread right across the park who offer a huge range of sessions, activities and workshops to engage your class with the South Downs National Park and all its special qualities. Most providers will offer sessions out in the park, at their centres, or at your school. You can use our learning map to see what’s on offer and filter by age group, subject area or activity type.

I run an education centre, how can I encourage schools to visit our site in the park?

The South Downs is a fantastic resource on the doorstep of nearly 850 schools. The first things to do is list yourself on our Learning Map  and subscribe to the termly providers’ newsletter. You’ll be invited to our annual providers’ network meetings where we share ideas and best practice, connect you with local schools and provide training and CPD at no cost to you. You’ll also be added to our Travel Grant Scheme , which means eligible schools can claim up to £300 towards the cost of transport when they visit you.

You can also share your resources on our Learning Zone, which gets over 4,000 hits each year. Send anything you’d like to share to learning@southdowns.gov.uk. And don’t forget to use the resources already on the Learning Zone to support your own new ideas, initiatives and activities.

How can I get your job?

I started my career on a training program at an outdoor activity centre and volunteered as a STEM Ambassador while studying at university. Volunteering, school work experience and internships are a great way to build experience in leading school groups in settings outside the classroom. You don’t need a teaching qualification; enthusiasm and a good understanding of the topics at hand will go a long way in your early career. There are lots of education officer jobs across the park, take a look at the learning map to get an idea of some of the organisations you might want to work for and check their websites for volunteering opportunities.

How do I find out more about what is going on for schools in the National Park?

Subscribe to our termly teachers’ newsletter to get all the latest goings on from across the National Park, including updates from learning outside the classroom providers, national park projects and details of the travel grant scheme.

Most importantly please come along to the free ‘Our South Downs Annual Teachers’ Conference’ in Plumpton on 29 March. The event is designed to support teachers to use the South Downs as a resource and this year we’ve got inspirational talks lined up from Dr Sue Waite and Ian Blackwell at Natural Connections and Pam and Claire from Park Discoverers. Teachers can also get hands-on in a wide range of interactive workshops and take new ideas back to school to share with pupils and colleagues. Book your space now!

I want to change my school’s curriculum to use the South Downs, can you help?

You probably don’t need to change your curriculum. There are already lots of opportunities to use the South Downs to meet National Curriculum objectives and we’ve mapped these across all key stages and subjects. If you would like to develop schemes of work please email learning@southdowns.gov.uk and I will be happy to visit you in school to discuss your ideas.

There are other ways to explore the National Park with your students. The John Muir Award is a national environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable scheme. Geocaching is a fun way to find out more about some of the hidden gems in the National Park, download a South Downs GeoTour Passport and start your adventure today!

NEXT MONTH: The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

What is the Community Infrastructure Levy? What development will be liable for CIL? How will the money be spent?

Send your questions for Lilian Wakely, CIL Officer for the South Downs National Park to newsletter@southdowns.gov.uk