Essex education teams receive national recognition at Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom 2016

Two of this year’s national Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Learning Outside the Classroom have been won by inspiring people and teams working in education in Essex. Essex County Councils Country Parks Outdoor Learning Team achieved the LOtC Advocate award, and Chris Philpot, owner of Barleylands in Billericay won the Lifetime Achievement in LOtC award. The awards were made at a ceremony in Birmingham on 24th November.

The Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC recognise individuals and teams of people who have made a significant impact on the lives of children and young people through their commitment and dedication to providing inspiring learning outside the classroom opportunities. Learning outside the classroom plays an important role in helping young people to achieve their goals by providing hands-on practical experiences that bring learning to life.  Whether it is through fieldwork, school ground activities, educational visits to venues such as museums, galleries or farm activity centres, or cultural expeditions abroad, LOtC can build lasting, positive learning experiences.

Both were recognised for their commitment to educating children and young people about the natural environment. Essex Country Parks Outdoor Learning Team was recognised for their commitment to connecting young people with nature. They have designed a wide range of experiences to capture the imagination of children that have wide curricular scope including days such as: Dinosaur Day, Shrek Day and Environmental Art Day which are infused with numeracy and literacy concepts.  Louise Flavell, Environmental Education Officer at Essex Country Parks said: “We are delighted to have won the category of LOtC Advocate at this year’s awards. Our Country Parks offer inspirational spaces that can unlock children’s learning potential and bring out the best in them. It’s something we are passionate about and always aim to create a fun, active and memorable experience for every child that takes part in a school visit. Thanks to everyone who voted – it means a great deal to us.”

Chris Philpot has a passion for educating children and has committed his career to engaging young people with farming and the countryside. In 1984, having grown up on the farm with his father collecting vintage farm machinery, he decided, along with the family, to create a ‘farm museum’ where the equipment could be displayed with relevant information to help visitors understand more about food and farming. The museum provided the catalyst for a development at the farm which has grown into an outstanding education experience hosting over 14,000 school children a year.  Speaking at the award ceremony after receiving his award Chris said: “I would like to thank the team at Barleylands for all the work that they do.  They demonstrate such commitment and dedication to ensuring that young people of all ages have memorable hands on experiences which bring farming and education to life”

Education Officer at Barleylands, Karen Watson added: “We are thrilled that Chris has been recognised with this Lifetime Achievement Award, it’s greatly deserved.  He has such an incredible passion for farming and education and works tirelessly to share information and knowledge about the countryside, nature, food and where it comes from with the next generation.  Well done Chris!”

Elaine Skates, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said:

“The Essex Country Parks Outdoor Learning Team and Chris share a passion for learning outside the classroom, and a desire to share that passion, so that more young people are engaged with the natural environment. Congratulations to the both of them for expanding the horizons of young people and opening their eyes to the wonders of the natural world.”

Almost six thousand votes were received for this year’s awards in the categories of Best LOtC Advocate, Best LOtC Innovator, Best LOtC Inspiring Educator, and Lifetime Achievement in LOtC.

The other award winners were: Stephanie Wood, LOtC Innovator and Rachel Murray, LOtC Inspiring Educator.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom is a national charity which works with educational establishments and providers of LOtC to ensure more young people access high quality educational experiences.  Find out more about the charity’s work and access free online guidance at

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