Gemma has been our Environmental Education Coordinator since April 2013. In addition to her 2½ days a week position with the Charity, Gemma (MSc Environment Science and Society, dissertation on environmental education) runs her own Forest School and outdoor learning programmes aimed at engaging children, young people and adults in their local environment – parks, woodlands and school grounds. She is also an Eco Schools Assessor for Eco Schools England and Keep Britain Tidy and a qualified Forest School Leader (BTEC3).
Her initial three year brief was to manage the existing education and learning programmes, update the School on the River Education Pack resource for teachers (to link with the new curriculum), to write and launch a new sustainability programme (Eco Venturers, launched in April this year), and to expand the informal learning programmes for youth groups and teacher training. Another goal, successfully achieved, was to increase bookings, especially at non-peak times.
She has also widened the variety of client groups that book with us to match the new programmes and in 2013-14 she recruited and trained a fantastic new team of volunteer teachers to deliver the workshops. Since the curriculum change, schools are increasingly looking for flexibility and diversity in workshop topics, adaptations for different year groups, and potentially a choice of locations.
With the new boat on the horizon, this year Gemma will be testing demand and capacity, adapting our current programmes to suit a wide variety of client groups, and (funding dependant) hopefully launching a citizen science programme which aims to involve local communities in testing and improving their local river environment.
From Gemma: ‘I’d like to say a huge thanks to the education and learning volunteers (both teachers and crew) as we couldn’t have achieved any of this without them!’