'Make teaching the Countryside Code compulsory'

The government has been urged to make teaching the Countryside Code compulsory
The government has been urged to make teaching the Countryside Code compulsory

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been urged by rural groups to include the Countryside Code in the national curriculum.

The code’s messages of respect, protecting the environment and enjoying the outdoors should be taught in the classroom, the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) and LEAF Education say.

The CLA, which represents 28,000 farmers and rural businesses, recently partnered with LEAF Education to develop a resource pack for teachers and youth group leaders.

The teaching materials have been created to help communicate crucial messages to Key Stage 2 pupils about the Countryside Code, which was first introduced in 1951.

It was recently refreshed following a rise in the number of visitors to the countryside during the pandemic.

But, at present, both groups say 'there is little by way of Whitehall directive encouraging schools to teach the Countryside Code'.

The organisations initially wrote to the government's education department in 2020, but were 'frustrated by the reply'.

Mark Bridgeman, president of the CLA, said: "That’s why we took the matter into our own hands and a year later we have done much of the work for them.

“Speak to any farmer or landowner and they will tell you that we need to do more to introduce children to the countryside – and with it, teach them how to be safe and responsible.

“There is too little being taught, and many farmers see the consequences on their own land, be it from wildfires, litter or dog attacks on livestock.”

The pack is free to download from the CLA’s website and is also available on the Countryside Classroom - a website used by teachers seeking materials related to rural affairs.