Two projects have been funded by Rural Renaissance. The first investment is being used to make the Exmoor Rural Skills Workshop (ERSW) more effective and sustainable in the long-term. This is being achieved firstly by ensuring that its work programmes are appropriate for participants (young people), stakeholders (local employers) and partners (Exmoor National Park Authority etc) and that evidence of need is recorded to determine future developments. Secondly, to design, develop and deliver a full portfolio of accredited training opportunities to enable the project to charge competitive rates for its courses and activities to schools, colleges, youth organizations and training providers.
The second project enabled Somerset Rural Youth Project to provide a Landrover to the Exmoor Rural Skills Workshop (ERSW). This will allow more diverse rural worksites within the Exmoor National Park and other Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to be accessed by young people from local schools & colleges.
About the Project
Exmoor Rural Skills Workshop is an informal education provision managed by Somerset Rural Youth Project and located at Simonsbath on Exmoor National Park.
Situated in stunning natural surroundings, ERSW provides young people aged 13 – 19 with the opportunity to learn a range of practical skills. These include dry stone-walling, hedge-laying, organic gardening and footpath maintenance.
One of the key components of the provision is that young people can also gain nationally accredited certificates for their achievements. ERSW is an Awarding Body Consortium recognized training center and as a result of this status the workshop offers a VRQ 1 in Practical Environmental Studies. Groups of young people have the choice to either enroll on the entire course or do specific modules including teamwork, dry stonewalling and health and safety.
Aligned with the VRQ 1 course, ERSW is also able to offer a range of other accreditation to groups including Youth Achievement Awards and the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The method adopted by the youth workers is very much needs led by the young people and they can choose the most appropriate form of accreditation to do.
So it can be viewed that ERSW offers a holistic approach to engaging young people which involves them gaining nationally accredited certificates whilst benefiting from the informal support offered by the team of youth workers. This approach helps to ensure:
- The raising of young peoples awareness of environmental issues,
- The development of self esteem,
- The growth of team work and co-operation,
- The development of social and interpersonal skills,
- The development of skills to improve employment and educational options.
To date, ERSW has supported a range of young people from schools in Somerset to gain nationally accredited certificates. It is believed that this support has enabled the young people to gain a positive experience of education.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the support, encouragement and confidence these young people have gained from undertaking a practical course has given them a positive experience of learning.” Jane Craven, Kingsmead School, Wiveliscombe.