Down to earth: Dartmoor MAT partner with Dartmoor National Park to help students embrace the great outdoors

18 October 2022 | ,

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (DMAT) and their D Society team and Dartmoor Community Engagement Rangers have been working together to allow more students to explore and experience the Dartmoor countryside.

As part of the collaboration, three new initiatives have been launched to enrich the curriculum for students at DMAT schools,

The initiatives have been developed to provide age-specific experiences which will allow students to benefit from an improved understanding and appreciation of the outdoors.

From sleeping under the stars to discovery days, the initiatives offer the chance to gain new experiences in the beautiful setting of their local environment, with one even specifically focused on encouraging confidence and exploration in young women.

‘Girls Do Dartmoor’ aims to create a safe and open space for young women to experience the outdoors, as some girls can feel intimidated by outdoor programmes like the Duke of Edinburgh. This initiative, which will be introduced as a pilot at Holsworthy Community College, is intended to help them reap the benefits of being active in the outdoors whilst addressing barriers or stereotypes that cause girls to not pursue outdoors activities.

The guided sessions will be led by Community Engagement Rangers who will help the focused groups of girls to access the outdoors and see it as place for them to use and benefit from. The sessions will act as a safe space in which they can speak openly and connect with each other whilst learning more about the wildlife and countryside and participating in activities.

Y7 Discovery Sessions, which gives every pupil in Year 7 time to explore and learn on Dartmoor and ‘NUTS’ – Nights Under the Stars will see other students given the chance to also get out into the countryside, visit new sites and learn about Dartmoor’s wonderful fauna and flora as well as much more.

The ‘Night Under the Stars’ initiative is underway with great success. A group of Year 6 pupils from Okehampton Primary School spent a night camping on a Dartmoor farm where they explored the local countryside and assisted with farmyard tasks. Over the weekend the pupils took part in a night walk led by an Engagement Ranger during which they learnt about the common land and the night sky. They then spent the next morning feeding the farm animals before returning home to proudly tell their parents about everything they’d learnt and show them the fresh egg they’d collected themselves.

Dan Morrow, Trust Leader and CEO at Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust, said:

“This exciting new collaboration with the Dartmoor Community Engagement Rangers is a great way for us to expand our offering to students and enrich their educational experience at DMAT. Despite living and learning so close to Dartmoor, many of our students have never spent any time exploring the many wonders it holds.

“Through our initiatives we hope to ensure every single one of our young people and children will get to experience and learn from the beautiful countryside we have right on our doorsteps. We hope this is just the beginning of our work with the Dartmoor Rangers and that we can continue to engage our pupils with the local environment in the future.”

Richard Drysdale, Director of Conservation and Communities, from Dartmoor National Park Authority, said:

“We are always looking for ways to make the national park more accessible and to encourage young people in the local area to truly appreciate what amazing experiences it has to offer. We are incredibly excited to collaborate with DMAT on these initiatives and proud of our shared commitment to enriching the lives and education of local students by helping them explore, understand and enjoy the protected landscape on their doorstep.”