FIELD STUDIES COUNCIL LOOKS TO OLYMPIC PARK FOR NEW URBAN EDUCATION CENTRE

An agreement signed today, will look at giving young people the unique opportunity to study the urban environment within what is Europe’s largest regeneration site.

The Olympic Park Legacy Company and the Field Studies Council (FSC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore opportunities to establish an urban residential field studies centre on the Olympic Park site after the 2012 Games.

A centre would provide students with the chance to gain hands-on experience in areas including urban design, building successful places and managing the environment as the Legacy Company oversees the development of the Olympic Park over 25 years.

Margaret Ford, Chairman of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, said:

“Education is a key part of our vision to secure a sustainable legacy, and this is an exciting opportunity to explore options for London’s first residential centre specialising in the built environment.

“We are already attracting a great deal of interest in the Olympic Park, helping us to secure a diverse offer that will bring people of all ages and background to the area after the 2012 Games.”

The FSC has a long history of running residential education courses for the UK’s schools.  It has also been managing successful day events in urban field studies in the host boroughs since 2006, and in 2007 its trustees agreed that the development of an urban residential centre should be a major priority for the organisation.

The decision has been supported through public consultations and a feasibility study by the FSC, which have drawn strong local support from a wide range of community leaders, schools and environmental organisations.

Tim Burt, Chairman of the Field Studies Council, said:

“Our vision is to develop a world-leading residential field centre specialising in outdoor education in the built environment – using the evolving and vibrant mix of buildings, spaces and parks to inspire and educate forthcoming generations of young people and their families.

“The FSC’s work in London and other cities has shown that there is a need for an urban-based education centre which supports outdoor fieldwork. This project will have a very long life; no such residential education centre with a strong urban and sustainable living focus exists in London, or anywhere in the world.”

Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, said:

“After the Games the Olympic Park won’t just be a centre of sporting excellence but a beacon of innovation.

“I am pleased that the OPLC are exploring a range of options, recognising the opportunity we have to provide creative ways to learn and highlighting the achievements in sustainable development on the Park.”

This MoU is the first agreement of this kind that the Legacy Company has signed with another organisation. The FSC will now develop plans including funding options for a centre on the Olympic Park which could accommodate up to 150 beds.

The proposal would primarily target secondary schools, although it could also be used by primary schools and adult learners. They would be able to discover, explore and be inspired by the environment through day and overnight courses as the Olympic Park evolves over the next 25 years.

Schoolchildren from the George Green School in Tower Hamlets, which is close to the Olympic Park, benefited from a similar FSC scheme earlier in the year when pupils visited a residential field studies centre in Dorking, Surrey.

Jordan Barker, 13, from George Green School in Tower Hamlets, said:

“Going on the field studies course gave me a real sense of how important our environment is. We tried out different activities and worked together as a group. I am already excited by watching the buildings go up on the Olympic site, so to have a field studies centre on our doorstep would be amazing.”