Save our Countryside Education Trust Beaulieu

Save our Countryside Education Trust!

The Countryside Education Trust in Beaulieu should be connecting people of all ages with the countryside - but it is woefully short of funds.

children with backpacks

The Countryside Education Trust based at Beaulieu (Charity no.269546) is a charity on a mission to connect people with the countryside. Founded in 1975, it usually welcomes thousands of schoolchildren throughout the year for residential visits. This has not been possible since March due to Covid-19.

A campaign has been launched to save the Countryside Education Trust and other outdoor charities like it around the country from closure, as some estimates suggest that half will not weather this storm, with the loss of over 15,000 staff.

At least a million children have missed out on residentials this year, according to the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres, and for many of those children, that would have been their only holiday. 

Most centres have been unable to earn any income since March when the government told them to close, and they are looking for financial support to help them survive until spring, which is when they might be able to re-open and start earning again.

(The Scottish government has pledged £2m but there is no equivalent offer in England currently.)

Joining Outdoor Learning’s ‘Save Our Outdoor Ed’ campaign, Jane Cooper, Chief Executive of the Countryside Education Trust, said

‘It has been terribly sad to see the residential centre empty, knowing that some children will never have the chance to come away on a visit after missing out this year.  We love hosting children of all ages and backgrounds.  Their time with us working on the farm, harvesting food and getting to grips with the countryside can be lifechanging.   The children learn social skills, resilience and teamwork alongside the formal requirements of the national curriculum. 

Most important of all, says Jane, ‘they start to feel that the countryside is for everyone and to understand the importance of taking good care of it.’  


The Trust usually relies on public events and weddings to supplement its income. These have not been possible this year, with a significant impact on the charity’s income. 

‘We are so lucky in our friends, volunteers and donors,’ says Jane Cooper. 

‘They have helped with emergency funding, and supported our Crowdfunder to help feed our animals.  We have had touching messages from our local community, telling us how much they miss us and how much they value our work. 

A big gap to fill and every penny counts - please help!

We have a big gap to fill, though, and every penny counts.’ 

For more information, or to make a donation, go to www.cet.org.uk or simply email Jane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More about the Countryside Educatio Trust 

countryside education trust den making

Established in 1975 and based at Home Farm at Beaulieu in the New Forest The Countryside Education Trust’s mission is to connect people with the countryside. Its role is to introduce people to the wonders of the British countryside, rural life and farming. In a very special location close to woods, river, heathland and the sea with variety of habitats on the doorstep, a wide range of environmental and bush craft activities is taught. Schools visit from a week to a day, whilst regular playgroups Owlets (0-2), Little Owls (2-4) and Big Owls (4-6) are run for local families together with a variety of events and courses throughout the year to introduce people to country living, rural crafts and wildlife.

A magical place of education and learning

The Countryside Education Trust has several strings to its bow but what binds everything together is that each string uses the countryside as a tool for educating and learning.

Whether it be the Little Owls, local young children who come to the Centre and use it as a playschool, or older children who come with their schools: some local who come for the day and others not so local, whose schools lie in areas of economic deprivation, and who benefit from the accommodation, lessons and facilities the Centre provides.

As well as this the Centre provides courses for adults along the same lines. Not only day courses and weekend courses in foraging, archery and wild medicines for example, but also team building days for work weary executives and groups of colleagues and friends just wanting a day of fun, something a bit different.

The Countryside Education Trust runs out of Home Farm in Beaulieu. This is where, not only can you find the office but also the centre itself, surrounded by the farm. There are accommodation facilities for school children and adults, a large kitchen ably manned by CET staff providing nutritious meals for those staying all day or for longer. A huge and comfy sitting area overlooks a garden with benches and barbeques.

The Farm itself has animals of all shapes and sizes that are used to the comings and goings at Home Farm and are loved by all. Their gentle nature is a revelation to some and the animals provide all kinds of lessons –lifelong ones as well as the more formal key stage lessons for schools. The farm is surrounded by woodland where anything goes! Learning about tree species and building dens, archery and coppicing for older learners: it is truly amazing how the countryside can be used as a learning tool.countryside education trust shetland sheep

So, in a myriad of ways the Trust encourages young and old to learn about the countryside in a fun way. Sometimes it is just for fun, sometimes it’s for team building or school key stage projects but everyone goes away with a sense that as well doing what they thought they were going to, (in itself a good start!), a more fundamental lesson is learned too...

....Working on the farm or in the countryside slows down the pace of life and learning, helping interaction and thoughtfulness, creating a sense of wellbeing and clam that is sometimes missed in today’s world.


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