Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC 2016; winners announced

Date Posted: 30/11/2016

The winners of the Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC 2016 were unveiled on Thursday 24th November at a presentation dinner and ceremony that took place at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham. 

Organised by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the awards were created to recognise best practice and hard work in delivering learning outside the classroom. 

Four accolades were handed out on the night – LOtC Advocate (sponsored by School Travel Organiser) , LOtC Innovator, LOtC Inspiring Educator, and LOtC Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award for LOtC Advocate was presented by School Travel Organiser editor Sarah Holt on the night. The winner was Essex Country Parks Outdoor Learning Team.

The team was recognised for the work it does in connecting young people with nature and the experiences it has devised such as Dinosaur Days, Shrek Days and Environmental Art Days.

The LOtC Innovator accolade was presented to Stephanie Wood, founder and chief executive officer of School Food Matters. 

SFM works with parents, children, caterers, policy makers, and schools to improve school meals and develop innovative food education programmes that break down the traditional barriers of the school classroom and get children involved in cooking, growing, and farm visits.

Pictured: School Travel Organiser's Sarah Holt and Rob Yandell with sector colleagues at the awards.

The third award of the night, LOtC Inspiring Educator, was given to Rachel Murray, play coordinator at Bluecoat Primary School.

As little as two years ago, when Rachel started her role, she was faced with a bare playground and field space filled with bored (often disruptive) children who were separated into Key Stage age groups.

Engaging with children, families and staff from the outset, Rachel transformed this bleak situation into an oasis for play where children now thrive creatively, socially, emotionally and spiritually in a purposeful play environment in which they get to take risks and gain huge rewards as a result. 

In her short time she has established a skilled and happy 'play team', introduced a huge 'mud kitchen' on previously barren land, funded and created a 50-tonne ‘play beach’ for sand play, and engaged families to develop the site and recognise the true value of play in making their children ‘Future Ready’.

Finally, the LOtC Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded to Chris Philpot, farm director and owner of Barleylands Farm.

In 1984, having grown up on the farm with his father collecting vintage farm machinery, he decided, along with the family, to create a ‘farm museum’ where the equipment could be displayed with relevant information to help visitors understand more about food and farming. 

The museum provided the catalyst for a development at the farm which has grown into an outstanding education experience hosting over 14,000 school children a year.  

School Travel Organiser's Guide