Two Tidworth schools have received £1,000 each to help develop their pupils’ outdoor skills.

The Forest Schools at the Wellington Eagles Primary Academy and the Wellington Lions Primary Academy have each received a grant from Tesco as part of their Bags of Help charity scheme. The money will be used to purchase additional equipment and supplies to support learning and development, such as tools, tarpaulin and ropes.

Michelle Clark, forest school leader, said: “Forest Schools help to nurture the children, practise teamwork and build resilience whilst connecting with nature. Our Forest Schools are very much child-led and they can make choices about what they would like to do each session. This could be activities such as making mud potions or making bug hotels.

“We teach the children skills which may seem advanced for their age, like lighting a fire and using tools like secateurs. Children are encouraged and supported to take risks and Forest School Leaders have extensive training on assessing those risks and managing the environment to make it as safe as possible for all.

“The sessions often complement what they are learning in the classroom, as the children and adults see ways in which topics can be linked to the outside world. The children are naturally inquisitive when learning outside and want to apply their skills in real life contexts such as map making, measuring sticks for constructing, and writing and painting using natural materials.”

Forest schools originally come from Scandinavia, where it developed from the concept of friluftsliv, or free air life. It was bought to the UK in 1993, according to the Forest School Association, and has been expanding since then.

Children in the activities are taught a range of skills, such as learning how to tie knots, jump safely, and developing maths skills using the length of sticks.

To participate, a demonstrator shows the children how to do an activity, before giving the children the chance to try it for themselves. This has taught the children skills such as shelter building, whittling wood, identifying nature through bug hunting and how to safely build a fire.

The money comes from the Bags of Help scheme at Tesco, which is run in partnership with the community charity Groundwork. Since launching in 2015, Bags of Help has provided more than £68 million to almost 30,000 local community projects across England.

Winning projects in the scheme have traditionally been voted on by customers in their local Tesco store, however due to the pandemic nominations moved online and a panel of Tesco colleagues worked together to decide which three local projects in their region would receive the grant.

Claire de Silva, Tesco’s Head of Community, said: “Bags of Help contributes funds to community projects up and down the country and whilst our customers have not been able to vote in this round, we’ve been delighted by the number of colleagues who have come together to choose projects in their local areas. In what has been an extremely tough year, we’re looking forward to seeing these projects providing support for their communities brought to life.”

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury, said: “Tesco community grants continue to enable local communities across England to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive."