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A Teesdale community is set to benefit in the round from exciting new outdoor facilities thanks to a four-figure grant from a regional employer.

Montalbo Nursery & Primary School in Barnard Castle has been extending its outdoor education provision over the last few years to both widen the range of topics that its 200 pupils can study and also reap the proven well-being benefits of learning in the open air.

In order to help it extend what it can offer and to keep its young learners protected from any bad weather, it has installed a 6m diameter wooden roundhouse in the school grounds which can comfortably accommodate more than 30 people.

And the new facility will also be available to members of the wider local community, including parents, community groups and visitors from local care homes.
Margaret Vaughan, chief operating officer at the County Durham Community Foundation, said: “This is a great example of a local school being right at the heart of its community by seeking to have a reach and impact far beyond the classroom doors.”

A £5,000 grant from the Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund has helped to cover the cost of the roundhouse, which has retractable doors that make it weatherproof and is ventilated at the top to ensure the environment inside stays comfortable.

Chris Minikin, headteacher at Montalbo Nursery & Primary School, says: “The wider benefits of outdoor education have long been recognised, it is an area in which we have been looking to expand our activities, and our children absolutely love learning in the open air.
“It helps them to learn about different aspects of our environment and the natural world, and has also been really good for the development of ‘soft’ skills like teamwork and taking turns.

“Having a base for all this work will make such a difference to the opportunities we can provide, especially when the weather might otherwise have forced us indoors, and with the roundhouse being big enough to accommodate parties of adult visitors too, we’ll be looking to extend its use to other members of the local community.
“It would have taken a lot longer to raise the money required for this project without the Banks Group’s generous contribution and everyone is really grateful for their support in enabling us to bring it forward.”

Chris Minikin, headteacher at Montalbo Nursery & Primary School, says: “The wider benefits of outdoor education have long been recognised, it is an area in which we have been looking to expand our activities, and our children absolutely love learning in the open air.”

Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “At a time when learning about the natural world couldn’t be more important, Montalbo School is really leading the way.
“This is a brilliant project that will enhance the educational experience of generations of local schoolchildren, as well as the facilities available to members of the wider community, and we’re very pleased to have been able to help make it happen.”

The Banks Community Fund is administered by the County Durham Community Foundation and provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations and environmental projects in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.

Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, said: “This is a brilliant project that will enhance the educational experience of generations of local schoolchildren, as well as the facilities available to members of the wider community, and we’re very pleased to have been able to help make it happen.”

Margaret Vaughan, chief operating officer at the County Durham Community Foundation, adds: “This is a great example of a local school being right at the heart of its community by seeking to have a reach and impact far beyond the classroom doors.”

Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 or via fundmanager@bankscomunityfund.org.uk to check if their group or project is eligible.

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