‘Today so many children are stuck indoors’: New outlook for learning in the great outdoors

Ernest Cook Trust's education officer Lydia Etherington
Ernest Cook Trust's education officer Lydia Etherington

The beautiful estates at Hartwell House and Waddesdon Manor are being turned into outdoor classrooms.

Former primary schoolteacher Lydia Etherington has just been appointed as the first education officer in a new partnership between the Ernest Cook Trust at its Hartwell Estate near Aylesbury and the neighbouring Waddesdon Manor.

Over the coming weeks, a woodland on the trust’s 1,800-acre Hartwell Estate will be turned into an outdoor classroom, offering a wealth of opportunities to take the environmental curriculum outside.

During term time Lydia will develop and run the trust’s education programmes and in half terms and holidays she will work at Waddesdon, developing an outdoor programme for families and groups.

Lydia said: “This is my dream job – it was the opportunity to teach outside the classroom that attracted me.

“Today so many children are stuck indoors and don’t get the opportunity to run and play outside. But at the Ernest Cook Trust, the cotton wool comes off and children can learn about the countryside in a very fun way, allowing them to enjoy the great outdoors in a safe environment.”

The Ernest Cook Trust’s director Nicholas Ford said: “We are really delighted to welcome Lydia to our rapidly expanding education team.

“Our new partnership with Waddesdon Manor means for the first time, we can extend our education programmes to schools in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.”

Simon Wales, Waddesdon Manor’s head of visitor experience, said the partnership ‘opens up a wealth of learning resources and opportunities for visiting families and schools’.