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New partnership helps more children access the countryside

Hundreds more schoolchildren are set to enjoy inspiring school trips to the South Downs, thanks to an innovative new partnership between the South Downs National Park and National Express Transport Solutions.

The Park has teamed up with the bus and coach hire specialist to offer schools across southern England discounted coach travel to more than 100 attractions and venues.

The days out can cover all manner of nature and heritage-based activities, such as wildlife surveying, hands-on conservation tasks, going on a country walk or visiting the zoo or a museum.

The partnership was announced as the National Park’s Outdoor Learning Grant was opened for applications from schools across the South East. Teachers are being invited to apply for a grant of between £300 and £500 to cover travel costs, reducing the burden on schools and parents to pay for trips.

A new partnership

The new partnership with National Express Transport Solutions provides affordable, reliable and comfortable school transport at a reduced rate of £295* during school hours.

It means that the Outdoor Learning Grant will go much further with the National Park being able to support an estimated 70 per cent more schools than in previous years.

Schools that are not successful in receiving a grant to cover costs will still be able to use the discounted travel rate from National Express Transport Solutions when visiting the National Park.

Last year more than 4,000 pupils from 72 schools benefitted from the Outdoor Learning Grant. The grants are administered and funded by the National Park Authority, with additional funding from the South Downs National Park Trust, the official charity for the National Park.

National Express bus visiting the South Downs National Park.
National Express bus visiting the South Downs National Park.

A huge difference to children’s wellbeing

Amanda Elmes, Learning, Outreach and Volunteer Lead for the National Park, said: “This is an amazing partnership and will make a huge difference to how many schools we’re able to help and how many children can benefit from connecting with the South Downs. Learning about the natural world is such an important part of the curriculum and National Parks offer a fantastic resource for schools to engage with wildlife, landscape, culture and history. The National Park is basically one big outdoor classroom with so many opportunities to learn.

Amanda Elmes from @South Downs National Park.
Amanda Elmes from @South Downs National Park.

She went on to say: “Unfortunately, the humble school trip, something we all remember with great nostalgia, has become out-of-reach for some schools with the cost of living hiking up prices. The partnership with National Express Transport Solutions means we can support an estimated 50 more schools through the Outdoor Learning Grant on top of what we normally would and, beyond our own funding pot, schools will still be able to make the most of the discounted travel. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Jiten Desai, Head of Regional Sales and Commercial Planning for National Express Transport Solutions, added: “As a leading school transportation specialist National Express Transport Solutions provides affordable, safe and reliable travel for school groups across the UK and we are delighted to have partnered with the South Downs National Park.

“We look forward to providing dedicated travel for hundreds of children across the south of England so that they can enjoy enriching, educational experiences at some of the many South Downs National Park attractions.”

Schools can click here to apply for an Outdoor Learning Grant.

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