Pupils toast end of term in great outdoors

St Mary's School, Fairford Leys, pupils enjoy an educational day out at the Hartwell Estate courtesy of the Ernest Cook Trust (ECT).'Left to right: Abi Salt, Patryk Waydowski, Imogen White, ECT education officer Lydia Etherington, Evie Brooker, Freya Baldwin and Harry Dean.
St Mary's School, Fairford Leys, pupils enjoy an educational day out at the Hartwell Estate courtesy of the Ernest Cook Trust (ECT).'Left to right: Abi Salt, Patryk Waydowski, Imogen White, ECT education officer Lydia Etherington, Evie Brooker, Freya Baldwin and Harry Dean.
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Pupils from St Mary’s School in Fairford Leys celebrated the end of term by toasting marshmallows on an open fire in woodland at the Hartwell Estate.

Reception class children were taking part in their regular Forest School sessions on the estate, run by the education charity the Ernest Cook Trust (ECT).

During the session, the children collected wood for the fire, learned how to sharpen sticks to cook their marshmallows, and gathered round as ECT education officer Lydia Etherington showed them how to light the camp fire safely.

They are among the first local schoolchildren to benefit from a new partnership between the trust’s Hartwell Estate and neighbouring Waddesdon Manor and Estate.

The Ernest Cook Trust helps children to learn from the land, running free education programmes for schools on its estates throughout England.

Last year more than 20,000 children explored its woodlands, farms and rivers nationally.

This summer has seen the trust’s first school visits organised in Buckinghamshire.

An area of woodland on Hartwell Estate is being turned into an outdoor classroom with benches and toilets to cater for visiting schoolchildren.

Dad Chris Umpleby, from Fairford Leys accompanied five-year-old son Archie on the school visit.

“I think it’s fantastic,” he said. “I grew up in Africa and I was very much used to always being out and about in the bush as a child.

“I think this is a tremendous way to learn about the environment and nature.”