Education is at the heart of the work of John Lyon’s Charity. In all that we do we seek to raise the aspirations of, and provide opportunities for, all children and young people in the beneficial area.
Given this remit, it is natural that schools will often be the destination for many of the Charity’s funded projects. Schools can apply directly to the Charity for various programmes and activities to supplement and enhance the curriculum. However, Arts organisations and voluntary sector groups also frequently make applications to deliver their projects within schools in order to reach as many children and young people as possible. Projects also deliver training opportunities for teachers to create a lasting legacy in that school.
The Charity is interested in supporting projects that seek to increase parental engagement in education and learning as well as projects that seek to unlock a child’s potential and engage them in the learning process, particularly if they are at risk of disaffection. Projects can happen both within the school setting and also outside formal learning environments.
Kids’ Cookery School
John Lyon’s Charity was among the first supporters of the Kids’ Cookery School (KCS), based in Ealing. KCS offers a range of cookery-based projects for children and their carers including afterschool clubs, courses for children with special needs and for refugee and asylum seeker families. Courses are available seven days a week, including evenings, from their premises in Acton. The ‘KCS on Wheels’ project transports a KCS chef and kitchen assistant, together with all the equipment needed to deliver a cookery lesson, to any venue in London for up to 15 students. The Wheel’s project is incredibly popular and can respond to schools that are unable to spend their time travelling with their children across London, particularly if moving with children with special needs.
John Lyon’s Charity has been supporting the Kids’ Cookery School since 1999 with grants of almost £170,000.
Beanstalk, formerly known as Volunteer Reading Help, trains and supports volunteers to help children improve their literacy and reading skills. Volunteers are placed in schools to provide ongoing support to the same children each week for a year, to help them develop confident reading skills. Children usually improve by an average of two reading sub-levels after the year.
We are currently supporting Beanstalk’s work in Ealing, with a grant of £36,000 over three years.
Canons Cluster Parent Ambassador Project
The Parent Ambassador Initiative was set up in 2007 to help parents become engaged in their child’s learning. It was developed as part of the Canons Cluster Extended Schools programme, which promoted extracurricular development and out of schools hours services.
In 2010, John Lyon’s Charity awarded a grant of £27,000 per annum for three years to the Harrow-based cluster to help establish the programme in schools. The project involves parents in all aspects of school-life and gives them a better understanding of the education system. This is achieved by the recruitment of ‘Parent Ambassadors’ who are able to communicate with their fellow parents effectively and in an approachable way.
The project has been very successful in all of the schools in the cluster and has since become embedded into the way each of the schools work. As a result, Parent Ambassadors are now sustained through the schools own incomes.
There are nine schools in the Canons Cluster:
Camrose Primary with Nursery
Stag Lane Infant and Nursery
Stag Lane Junior
St. Bernadette’s Catholic Primary
Woodlands Special School
Forest School is an inspirational process that offers learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.
Over the past few years, we have been approached by a growing number of organisations seeking funding to run or establish a Forest School in their local area. The increase in grant applications for this purpose acknowledges the value of Forest School as a complement to mainstream education. Contact with the outdoors is often limited for many children, particularly those in inner-city London, and the vital experience of using the outdoors and being comfortable in nature is being lost. The changes implemented by the National Curriculum from September 2014 also recognise the importance of outdoor learning and Forest School is one of the ways in which this can be achieved.
Forest Schools that are currently funded by John Lyons’ Charity are:
Holland Park Ecology Centre
The Ecology Service is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Parks Service and operates from Holland Park. It provides a base for environmental education and a programme of events throughout the borough. In 2011, the Ecology Centre piloted a Forest School in Holland Park. Our funding of £45,000 over three years has helped the Forest School to develop into a thriving and well-used resource that is very popular with local schools and is oversubscribed in the summer months.
Forest School, Harrow
All Saints’ Church, serving the area of Weald in Harrow, is based on a site that includes a small patch of unused woodland. Forest School activities began on the site in September 2012, following a pilot scheme. It works in partnership with Harrow schools and other youth services that support young people, in order to offer them a comprehensive Forest School experience. Participants have included Travellers, refugees, children with learning disabilities, children from Troubled Families, Looked After Children and pupils encountering difficulties in mainstream schools. Our funding of £54,000 over three years helps to pay for the running costs of the Forest School.
Holly Park Primary School, Barnet
In November 2013, we awarded a grant of £18,000 over three years to introduce Forest School methodology into Holly Park Primary School. The Forest School gives children at the school access to a rich outdoor learning experience, ultimately increasing opportunities to stay fit, healthy and emotionally well balanced. Sessions are targeted at all children in Year 1 and Year 3. Additional sessions are offered to those children who find it difficult to work in mainstream education.