Childrens Outdoor Learning at Holt Hall is essential. Norfolk County Council is closing it
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An Outdoor Learning Centre which has served generations of schoolchildren from in and around Norfolk , over the past 70 years will be closed by Norfolk County Council (NCC).
Norfolk County Council are closing Holt Hall because it is not a statutory requirement for them to deliver this service. There are few alternative services for schools to turn to in Norfolk. We believe they are closing it because if they sell the huge Victorian house, plus more than seventy acres of protected woodland, a walled garden ,plus a beautiful lake will help close a deficit in their accounts.
The costs of maintenance and running Holt Hall according to Norfolk County Council have been made to look as bad as possible, because maintenance has been delayed for years. Visiting schools pay for visits, as do many other organisations who use the estate. All revenue generating suggestions, by staff , Friends and volunteers, have been totally ignored by Norfolk County Council. Other outdoor learning centres are closing , so Holt Hall is becoming even more lucrative.
Why get rid of such a useful source of income, which also serves children too? We have tried to engage Norfolk County Council in discussions with suggestions for increasing revenue, but they will only answer through the 'consultation process'. The 'consultation' process does not feel open and genuine, and allows the council to reject or ignore feedback.
Holt Hall is well used. In this academic year 84 schools had booked a class of KS1 or KS2 children to stay in Holt Hall, and experience the wonders of exploring and learning outdoors in the safety of this large estate, with expert teaching staff; as many thousands of children have done for the past 70 years. All since March have been cancelled.
For seventy years, children have learned and appreciated the environment, outdoor living, nature, and working together at Holt Hall. They have developed self-confidence and increased wellbeing, during their three day residential or day visits.
Holt Hall has the highest satisfaction score of all outdoor learning centres in Norfolk, as given by the schools who use it. It's dedicated staff cater for all the food and accommodation needs set by any attending school.
The UK Government is not allowing overnight stays, but day visits can be booked. There is no good reason why NCC won't allow Holt Hall to open to earn revenue and provide a valuable service to schools at this very difficult time.
Holt Hall also hosts day visits for vulnerable young adults to help with their mental wellbeing, and it is used by other organisations like Forest schools and for camping.
Holt Hall has a charitable trust ("Friends") & volunteers to assist the grounds team, and raise thousands in funds to ensure all children in a class are included (i.e. financial support) in a visit to Holt Hall.
We want for this important service to continue. Children from Norfolk and beyond experience out door learning, adventure, confidence and relationship building. This is what the teachers who bring their classes to Holt Hall feedback to Holt Hall staff.
Every year the staff and volunteers cut down a huge christmas tree from the woods to put in the Hall near the large fireplace. The tree is decorated , and is enjoyed by dozens of children and a Christmas Fair event. Throughout the autumn and winter, the roaring fireplace is supplied fallen trees in the woodland. During all the seasons "Open Gates" invite the public into enjoy the grounds for themed events, and volunteers are able to raise more money for the childrens charity.
Thank you for signing this petition, it is much appreciated.
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