Ufton Court Children's Charity
This week Fiona Craig, Managing Director of the Ufton Court Educational Trust speaks to us about their journey from school trip provider to children's charity.
Ufton is an innovative charity that aims to change children's lives through challenging and inspirational learning outside the classroom. From the exceptional house and grounds of Ufton Court in Berkshire, children who visit us can have a wide range of enriching experiences whether it be in one of our historical settlements or in our woodland outdoor learning centre.
Ufton Court has been a much-loved site for Tudor school trips for decades. However the establishment of Ufton Court Educational Trust in 2006 meant we were able to enhance our school trip provision further to provide much more than just Tudor History. We now offer trips covering nine different historical periods and have both a Celtic and Viking settlement in our grounds and welcome over 10,000 children each year to experience history first hand through our carefully created narratives, drama and costumes.
Seeing the benefits that children gained from learning experiences outside of the classroom, we were inspired to use our learning principles to reach children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who all face challenges at home or in school. Our woodland gave us the perfect site to run outdoor activities that would challenge them in a safe setting, to build up their confidence and skillset outside of the classroom. In 2011, 'Ufton Adventure' was born.
Ufton Adventure aims to raise the aspiration and attainment of disadvantaged children. Based in woodland cabins, we give children the chance to learn new skills, including follow up personal action plans which are taken back into school. Importantly, each child will visit us repeatedly throughout their time at school to help embed their learning and new skills, adding a sense of continuity to their time with us.
For us, the main challenge that comes from running a charity alongside a busy school trip facility, is ensuring that we have long term financial security to keep our programmes running and as well as maintaining a safe and high quality learning space for all. While hosting weddings and school trips does provide us with a certain amount of income, we are reliant on a lot of fundraising and support from donors and charities.
It's also important to make sure that our programmes remain at the forefront of education research and pedagogy, and that the children who need it most have access. We work extremely closely with our partnered schools, as well as The University of Reading to closely monitor the positive impact we're having on these children's lives.
As we continue our journey we are hugely excited about what the future will bring. By 2020 we're hoping to have completed a new Viking Longhouse in our grounds, and our programmes are developing further to run smaller, repeated visits specifically for children at risk of exclusion.
If you would like to book a school trip to Ufton, or would like to find out more about Ufton Adventure and how you can help, please get in touch here.
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