My son was away with his Year 6 class last week at the Gorsefield Rural Studies
centre. He loved it and learned so much about being independent, cooking, bird-watching, making camps and camp-fires. It really brought together the pupils in his inner-city primary school in Tower Hamlets; everyone appeared to love it. There is a real diversity of children in his class but it appeared that the whole event brought the children together even more intensely, making them feel part of a community where everyone is equally important. His class teachers went with them and seemed equally enthused, if a bit exhausted.
I worry that Tower Hamlets will struggle to keep the centre open since they are faced with huge cuts in services. A centre like Gorsefield shows why Local Authorities are so important; they can supply services that no school could afford. Instead pumping money into free schools, the government should be working with LAs like Tower Hamlets to keep these sorts of facilities open. They are not bolt-on extras but absolutely vital in children's development, particularly children who have never been to the countryside before, who have never made their own camp-fire and so forth. It should be our duty as a society to supply these sorts of experiences -- which children from wealthy backgrounds enjoy as a matter of course -- to all children.