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Education Officer

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UKRIGS receives ALSF grant for Earth science field teaching activities

UKRIGS and English Nature are pleased to announce that UKRIGS is to receive an Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund grant for a UKRIGS Education Officer pilot project to use five former aggregates sites to develop and publish examples of high quality Earth science field teaching activities. These will mostly be for use by non-specialist teachers delivering the National Curriculum to students from Primary to GCSE level.

The main aim is to address the serious problems of schools failing to undertake Earth science fieldwork, highlighted in English Nature Report 523 - "The use of geological sites by schools", prepared by the National Stone Centre.

For this educational /interpretational work there will be close liaison with RIGS Groups and our partners in the Earth Science Teachers' Association (including the Earth Science Education Unit, based at Keele University) and the National Stone Centre. This project will follow the ESTA/ESEU pattern of operation in the use of writing workshops and the production of web-based activites and CDs. Links will be made between our field teaching activites and their classroom/ laboratory practical activities hosted on the www.jesei.org.uk website.

It is planned that, wherever possible, the interpretive activities will be case studies/exemplars capable of use, some with minor adaptation, at similar sites elsewhere. They will be written for three levels: Primary (mainly KS2) Lower Secondary (KS3) and Upper Secondary (KS4/GCSE). They will help teachers in the delivery of the National Curriculum to students at all levels, locally and nationally, and thus directly benefit a large section of the community affected by past aggregates extraction. The selected sites will be designated geoconservation sites, have open public access and likely be currently owned by public bodies.

The five sites of the Pilot Project will include:

  1. The National Stone Centre, Wirksworth, Derbyshire. This is a large open site demonstrating a range of is tropical reef environments in the Lower Carboniferous. It is frequently visited by school groups.
  2. Park Hall Country Park, Stoke-on-Trent, including the Hulme Quarries National Nature Reserve/ SSSI. The Triassic sandstones and pebble beds reveal a story of flash floods in a desert environment. The open access site is frequently used by groups of all ages. The Open University had a regular Sunday slot for many years when their Science Foundation Course summer school was based at Keele.
  3. Apes Tor, and Ecton Hill, Wetton, Staffs, part of the Hamps and Manifold SSSI. This is an excellent locality to study the geometry of fold structures, as modelled with strips of foam and card at the 2003 UKRIGS Conference. Ecton Hill itself has the remains of copper mining, where school groups have worked on exercises related to vein mineralisation and industrial processes.

We are spoiled for choice for the two other sites, which will leave plenty for another day. A success with this 8-month pilot will enable UKRIGS to bid for funding to extend the project nationwide and to include a greater element of liaising with RIGS Groups, teachers and a wide range of other partner organisations.

The examples of Earth science field teaching activities produced by the project will be initially available on the GeoconservationUK website and on CD, with some paper copies.

UKRIGS acknowledges the continued support from English Nature through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund and welcomes the opportunity to use the legacy of aggregates sites to support teachers and RIGS Groups involved in educational activities within their communities.

The Project was managed by John Reynolds jr.reynolds@virgin.net or info@geoconservationuk.org.uk

The Aggregates levy is a tax on primary aggregates introduced in April 2002, which aims to address the environmental and social cost of aggregate extraction. English Nature, English Heritage and the Countryside Agency administer Defra funding arising from the levy. English Nature will have awarded grants totalling £12 Million over three years.

Further information about English Nature and the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund Grants Scheme can be found on www.english-nature.org.uk.

Supported through the Defra Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund

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