Earlier this month, we hosted the first full meeting of Countryside Classroom partners at the House of Commons. We had three aims:
- ensure the partners were well acquainted with one another
- seed ideas for future collaborations between partners
- introduce a small group of parliamentarians to the work of the consortium
A structured networking session encouraged partners to meet new people they had not worked with before, and find new common ground and potential collaboration. Some simple ground rules were established about who to talk with, for how long, and what questions to ask each other. Participants were also asked to record their newly created connections and ideas on pieces of card.
We’d specifically asked partners to bring along their directors, trustees and people who had not been involved with Countryside Classroom to date. As it was my job to introduce the networking, I was a bit nervous about how they would take to being told how to talk to each other! But I needn’t have worried – after a few moments the conversation was in full flow. From the number of ideas cards that were returned to us afterwards, we know this was a huge success and that lots of new ideas were spawned. We wrote to all those who had handed in cards to remind them of their suggested follow-up with the other partners, and we await some interesting new opportunities and joint activities.
In his address to the partners and parliamentarians, Lord Curry called for us to collectively aim higher and set some ambitious targets for children benefitting from learning outdoors and developing a healthy connection with food. One of the triumphs of the consortium is that, looking around the room, there was huge diversity in the organisations represented; people who wouldn’t necessarily think of working together finding the common ground that means we can achieve better outcomes for children and young people.
The next time we all gather in the Houses of Parliament will be to celebrate the launch of the web site 6 months on, and to hear from children who have been using the Passport in their schools. We’ll also be hearing how the consortium, by travelling this road together, has the potential to bring about transformational change.