It is hard to imagine anything splendidly rural, like a mountain range or a field of wheat, while confined to the draughty wastes of Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre, but The Countryside Movement comes the closest to providing a genuine oasis at next week's Education Show. You will find a stand packed with helpful information about environmental education.
Four organisations which have broadly the same aim, but different specialities, have combined to produce a display which you shouldn't miss. But just in case lack of time or money, or OFSTED, prevents you from going to the NEC, here's a short account of what's on the stand and how you can access it.
The four agencies have been brought together by the Countryside Movement and all aim to help teachers to put into practice the Government's 1996 White Paper underlining the need for "those who live in towns and cities to understand rural issues" and for primary schools "to give their pupils an opportunity to visit farms, the forest or other countryside features". It's all on stand J9 * The Countryside Foundation is an organisation established to inform people about "the countryside as a living and working environment". It offers schools a key stage 2 pack called The Lychford File. This looks at the life of a real village (with an imaginary name) and includes a video and audio cassette, print, a piece of sheep's fleece and a fishing fly. It costs Pounds 29. 99 (plus Pounds 5.25 p+p) from The Countryside Foundation, Dean Clough Industrial Park, Dean Clough, Halifax HX3 5AX. Tel: 01422 250250. A key stage 3 pack is in preparation and will be ready in September.
* The Forest Education Initiative aims to increase young people's understanding of trees, the woodland environment, the forestry industry and the timber trade. It has two resources packs on offer. The Wonder of Wood (Pounds 7.25 + Pounds 2.25 p+p. Cheques payable to the Forestry Commission) for key stage 2 and Investigating Trees and Timber (Pounds 9.25 plus Pounds 2.25 p+p) which is aimed at key stage 4 and deals with global issues. The FEI also organises visits to forests and sawmills. For further details, ring Margaret Hardy 01223 314548 or write to the FEI, Forestry Authority, Great Eastern House, Tennyson Road, Cambridge CB1 2DU.
* The National Federation of City Farms looks after 64 existing city farms and the declining number of schools with farm units in them. There are 116 of these and the federation is trying very hard to bolster their numbers. For further information try your local city farm, but if there isn't one nearby, contact this address for a leaflet and a list of city farms. NFCF, the GreenHouse, Hereford Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4NA. Fax: 0117 923 1900.
* The Food and Farming education service works on behalf of all sectors of the agricultural industry. It distributes free resource packs to primary and secondary teachers - targeted by key stage level and national curriculum subject area. It also provides general information for pupils and students learning about food and farming. Shortly it will publish Learning from the Land, a farm-visit directly with information leaflets (Pounds 10 inc. p+p) from National Agricultural Centre, Stonleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LZ. Tel: 01203 535707.