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‘I feel we’ve achieved something’: Angus pupils ditch mobile phones for great outdoors

Tayside children are swapping games consoles for rural gamekeeping in a novel education project.

An enterprising link-up is getting Angus children into the great outdoors to learn rural skills to boost their health and welfare.

The pupils ditched their phones and tablets to learn a variety of skills, many of which could lead to job opportunities.

the lessons have served as an antidote to sedentary hours spent by the children on phones and tablets.
Pupils learn how to shoot clays.

Members of the Angus Glens Moorland Group (AGMG) have hosted lessons for groups ranging from school pupils to apprentices from Glasgow working with Forster Roofing in Brechin.

A total of 110 children have enjoyed 25 hours of free education from gamekeepers, shepherds and fishing ghillies.

As well as promoting active lifestyles and the hill-to-plate journey of wild food, the lessons have served as an antidote to sedentary hours spent by the children on phones and tablets.

Young participants from one school surveyed said they spent, on average, 31 hours a week in front of a screen, with one child admitting to devoting 8 and a half hours a day.

While most town-dwelling participants had the countryside on their doorstep, the majority acknowledged they rarely got out to enjoy activity in the hills or to see the resident wildlife.

Some of the pupils hear of the traditions of hill ponies.
Pupils queue up for the game barbecue (credit: FMV Photography )

After learning directly from countryside workers, the children demonstrated higher than usual levels of commitment, motivation and enjoyment, something noted by their teachers.

Last week, the work of the AGMG was shortlisted for a Developing the Young Workforce Dundee and Angus award for a work placement pilot with Brechin High School.

Their education work has been backed by partners Scottish Youth and the Countryside Education Trust (SYCET).

One of the children is now considering a land based career, perhaps in gamekeeping.

# E S T A T E S W H O E D U C A T E WEEK 3 – FISHING It’s been a busy week here at AGMG HQ! Here are some of last weeks highlights….We are approaching the end of our 2019 term, with thanks to our friends at Scottish Youth & The Countryside Education Trust & GameChangerBBQ, so stay tuned as the best is yet to come….PS, The rain may be forecast for this weekend however we will be heating things up at the Angus show with Game Changer BBQ, so come along and say hi at stand 35! 👋🏼Plus we will be bringing a taste of life on the moors to the main ring at 3pm, NOT TO BE MISSED!!#estateswhoeducate #gamekeepers #education #angusshow #supportyourlocal #communityengagement #ruralcommunity #sycet #agmg

Posted by Angus Glens Moorland Group on Thursday, 6 June 2019

Group member Lianne MacLennan, who developed the learning programme, said: “During the sessions it was interesting to see kids out of their comfort zones gaining an insight into our roles in the countryside and life on a working sporting estate.

“There was one child who said, if they were hungry, they would just put something in the microwave, so it was good to be able to teach them about the health benefits of wild food, the management which helps produce it and how it is then prepared.”

Organisers were keen to offer the children a grassroots view of the countryside that did not shy away from realities.

“Some of the kids started off like blank pages but left with a better understanding of what happens in the countryside, from biting ticks to casting a fly to why a deer stalker will select an old or injured animal to control.

“Because the lessons were entirely led by real working people, participants weren’t given a romantic view, but they seemed to appreciate that honesty more.”

For more information go to the Angus Glens Moorland Group’s Facebook page 

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