University of Leicester Botanic Garden gets top marks for educational visits

Posted by er134 at Oct 31, 2013 12:05 PM |
Learning Outside the Classroom award for Oadby facility

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 31 October 2013

Images of the Botanic Garden available from er134@le.ac.uk

The University of Leicester Botanic Garden has proved to be at the top of the class for educational visits by being awarded again the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.

Awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the LOtC Quality Badge combines for the first time learning and safety into one easily recognisable badge for all organisations providing learning outside the classroom experiences.

Dr Richard Gornall, Director of the Botanic Garden, said: “Being awarded the LOtC Quality Badge shows that we offer young people the type of high quality learning experiences they really benefit from. We're thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts and we look forward to welcoming even more children and young people from the local area.”

The LOtC Quality Badge was launched in 2009 as part of the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, a national initiative to ensure young people are given more opportunities to have these experiences as part of the curriculum. The LOtC Quality Badge is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the national voice for Learning Outside the Classroom. The Council also provides free online guidance and information for teachers on how to plan and organise high quality activities. The LOtC Quality Badge is designed to make it easier for teachers to identify providers of quality educational visits. Organisations will display the LOtC Quality Badge as a signal to schools that their venue has met required standards, so teachers do not need to carry out their own risk or quality assessments.

There are two routes to the LOtC Quality Badge.  Route 1 is for organisations offering activities that are considered relatively low risk and activities that take place wholly in controlled areas used by the public, such as museums, galleries, places of worship and zoos.  Route 2 is for organisations providing activities that require a degree of technical knowledge and experience beyond the lay person. For example, adventurous activities such as rock climbing and river and coastal fieldwork, where young people enter the water to make measurements.

Providers looking to gain the LOtC Quality Badge will need to meet a set of six quality indicators and will be supported through a developmental process by a package of on-line support materials, which will include guidance, good practice exemplars, downloadable templates and training materials.

Beth Gardner, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said: “Educational visits are among the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life.  The LOtC Quality Badge offers teachers a guarantee that not only is a venue providing the sort of educational value that they can build on in class long after the visit but they also have the appropriate risk management structures in place.

“Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits. The LOtC Quality Badge will reduce red tape and provide assurance for schools, thereby ensuring that many more young people have memorable, exciting and valuable learning outside the classroom experiences. I congratulate the University of Leicester Botanic Garden on being awarded the LOtC Quality Badge.”

The LOtC Quality Badge is available to large and small organisations providing quality learning outside the classroom experiences and managing risk effectively. Almost 1,000 organisations have already been awarded the LOtC Quality Badge, including museums, adventurous activity and field study centres, places of worship, art galleries, visitor attractions, student travel companies and farms.

For more information about the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge, please visit www.lotcqualitybadge.org.uk

Ends

Notes to Editors

The Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto was launched in November 2006, making eight specific pledges to expand access to educational opportunities outside the classroom for all 0 to 19 year olds.

The LOtC Quality Badge brings together a number of existing schemes that cover safety primarily; puts the emphasis on the quality of teaching and learning provided (of which risk management is a part); and offers a quality standard for sectors that hitherto have not had a scheme at all (e.g. museums and galleries, field study centres). The first Quality Badges were awarded in January 2009, with the new Council for the Learning Outside the Classroom acting as the awarding body Organisations can register online at: www.lotcqualitybadge.org.uk/

The LOtC Quality Badge is available to all organisations providing learning outside the classroom experiences. There are two routes to the LOtC Quality Badge – the route an organisation takes to achieve the LOtC Quality Badge will be determined by the degree of risk management required to manage the activities offered.

Route 1 is for those organisations whose activities are considered relatively low-risk, such as environmental centres, art galleries, museums, visitor attractions and places of worship.  Organisations applying through Route 1 will need to complete an online Self Evaluation Form to demonstrate that they have met a set of quality indicators. A sample of organisations will receive a quality assurance visit from a LOtC Quality Badge assessor.

Route 2 is for those organisations whose activities require a degree of technical knowledge and experience that are beyond the lay person, such as ensuring children are operating safely on a high ropes course, around livestock and farming equipment, or when entering rivers to make measurements.  Residential and overseas visits are also included in Route 2, due to the unique risk management issues they present to teachers.

Providers proceeding through Route 2 must meet the same quality criteria as Route 1, but will also be assessed by the relevant awarding body. This is to ensure that they meet the quality indicators and have adequate safety management systems in place. There are five Route 2 awarding bodies: Access to Farms (ATF); Adventure Activities Industry Advisory Committee (AAIAC); Field Studies Council (FSC); School Travel Forum (STF); and Expedition Providers Association (EPA)

In October 2008 an Out and About package was launched to help teachers integrate more learning outside the classroom into the curriculum. Including advice, guidance, resources and training modules to support schools, colleges, early years’ providers and youth groups provide learning outside the classroom opportunities, it is available at www.lotc.org.uk. The package aims to break down barriers to pupils getting out and about – with ‘how to’ guidance, including integrating learning outside the classroom into the curriculum and information on where to go and who can help.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom was launched in April 2009 and is the national leading voice on learning outside the classroom issues.

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