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CVLLP 20: Cotton Dell Outdoor Classroom

Project Objective

To provide an outdoor classroom space for the two local schools to be able to regularly utilise Cotton Dell for learning and enjoyment.

Fit to existing strategies and objectives

Cotton Dell has been identified within the Hotspot Audit and the Statement of Significance as a Wildlife Site of importance in the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership that is sufficiently robust to cater for a greater numbers of visitors.

Comprehensive description of the project

Volunteers from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, together with young people on the Youth Engagement Project (CVLLP 13) will use locally derived materials to create an outdoor classroom in the Cotton Dell Woodlands.

Who will benefit?

Cotton Dell is ideally placed between two local schools – both of which have a close affinity with the reserve. The site is currently used on an ad-hoc basis. The provision of an outdoor classroom would enable both schools to make more use of the reserve, combined with training and support for the teachers in the use of a Living Landscape education pack (CVLLP 22). The Youth Engagement Project (CVLLP 13) will also be able to use this site for woodland work, and they will be involved with the planning and delivery of the classroom features in consultation with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Community Reserves Officer.

Outputs and outcomes


  1. outdoor classroom constructed at Cotton Dell
  2. schools utilising the facility at least 3 times per year with an attendance of 20    school children each visit


  1. Young people have gained a practical activity
  2. Young people have had the opportunity to contribute to their local community


Cotton Dell is a freehold nature reserve belonging to The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The classroom infrastructure will only last as long as natural materials in a woodland environment would be expected to.

What happens when the project is finished?

The outdoor classroom will be used by young people and school groups during the lifespan of the Heritage Lottery funded element of the CVLLP; Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is committed to facilitating environmental education within the valley and will replace classroom materials as required after this stage of the project has ended.

Risks and constraints

Post project risk

Risk: Vandalism of resource after completion.

Contingency planning: Hopefully by involving young people in the construction of the project we will reduce the already slim chances that vandalism will occur. Local materials will be used where possible and will be readily replaced.

Constraints, licences, permits etc

Cotton Dell is owned and managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, it is not a SSSI so NE permission is not required, neither is planning permission is required.


The Wildlife Trust will maintain suitable levels of biosecurity with young people and SWT volunteers while undertaking the project. They will also work with others to raise the awareness of biosecurity issues within the valley.

Environmental Policy

Reduce travel: The Youth Officer will be based at the CVLLP office in the project area to reduce travel to a minimum, and meetings will all be held in the project area.  Where possible, site management equipment will be stored in the project area thus negating the need to bring it in from distance.

Efficient travel: Vehicles provided for the CVLLP project will be low carbon emissions vehicles; there will be a CVLLP dedicated mini-bus available within the overall project which will be used to reduce private car use.

Discipline: Project Staff will be expected to comply with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Environmental Policy (Appendix 3.4)

Overall ethos: Our work will be heritage orientated, but throughout there will be a strong element of sustainability and the potential for young people to include environmental issues in the projects they carry out.