What is the aim of our monthly newsletters, I hear you ask? To extoll the virtues of our schools and students, and the successes of the previous months. Championing our extraordinarily talented coaches, our fund-raising efforts. And this month there is a good deal to celebrate and look forward to. Applications for the 2024 programme are open (and the level of interest we have seen so far is wonderful), and we have a session for teachers in Kent happening at the end of the month. We're hoping to see some familiar faces there!
However, having just returned from a walk with my dogs, the amount of young people in the local park out of uniform and clearly not in school was alarming. A trend identified by a BBC report last week, highlighting the increasing levels of absenteeism. Of course, there can often be a perfectly reasonable and valid reason for this absenteeism, then again, it could be just plain bunking off... Either way, education during the vital years is being missed. Points which will define and shape lives to come.
The issues which then tumble into sharp and often worrying focus thereafter, are there for us to see on our urban streets, in newspapers and media reportage.
This is very much where Fishing for Schools comes in and why I started the initiative all those years ago; specifically to meet school needs, and of course, the young people. Fishing for Schools aims to bridge the gap between the classroom formalities and the joy of the outside, and it works.
The aspiration – and realisation - wherever possible was and is, to provide a springboard into a pastoral, quieter world, and wherever possible, into further education in the outdoor industry. That remains my ambition and my passion.
If only (the two saddest words in the English dictionary) we could broaden and extend our capability… if only. Already, our schools uptake for the coming year is impressive. The tough part is having to choose which of theses schools to work with, knowing that many of them will be denied a place purely because of the costs involved. Thus stifling growth and reach. It’s tough.
My abiding hope is that a new parliament will finally wake up to the merit of what we do and take Fishing for Schools seriously and fund us to the extent that we do not have to say “no”. In essence, we are saying “no” to the anglers and citizens of the future, cutting off a conduit of not only pleasure but essential outdoor learning and unique skills.
We hate saying no. In the meantime, it is only with your help that we can achieve these great things; helping students to reconnect in the classroom and with nature, realise their potential and expand their horizons. Through the donations of our kind supporters and Patrons, we can achieve so much.
If you would like to donate to The Countryside Alliance Foundation, you can do so here.