Taiwan 2012

30 01 2013

This blog is arguably a little late to be published, but I got there eventually.


In October 2012 Chris Millican, Milly Piggott and myself (Joe Newberry) boarded a long-haul flight bound for Taipei, Taiwan via Hong Kong.  The team worked closely with the Taiwan Forestry Bureau (TFB) for just over two weeks.

Around three quarters of Taiwan are wooded and TFB are responsible for the management of much of this. Within the forests TFB managed 18 National Forest Recreation areas, 8 of which have their own education department and it was a 5 year programme of partnership between FSC and TFB’s nature centres that drew FSC staff.

The visit started with several days In Taipei where Chris gave a number of talks to a public audience at a professional forum on outdoor education and Milly and I gave talks to TFB staff on our work as Tutors. During our time in Taipei we met with several key figures in TFB including Director General Lee.


After Taipei we headed south-east to the first Nature centre on our tour, Chihnan in Hualien County.  In the Nature centre on the forested slope above Lake Liyu (Koi Carp) their tutors demonstrated a fantastic range of courses and resources, including papier mache models of each bear species from around the world.

Next our journey took us further south to Taitung County where we started with a tour of Jhihben Nature Centre. We were looking for suitable field sites for investigations because over the next few days we were going to run a workshops for staff of Nature centres from around Taiwan with a big emphasis on Fieldwork and A-level Investigations in particular.

The Workshop involved getting TFB staff into small groups and encouraging them to make a scientific observation within their surroundings. Once they had made an observation it was up to them to formulate hypotheses, design a method, collect data, then analyse and evaluate their data to present their findings to their peers.  The groups came out with some very interesting and imaginative investigations and in a very short time where able to present some pretty solid findings and lovely posters.


Once the workshop was over we had just enough time at Jhihben to observe a little teaching before continuing south to Pingtung County and Shuangliou Nature Centre. At Shuangliou we were escorted by TFB staff and volunteers around the Nature Centre where we got an idea of the fantastic facilities, and to get an idea of the programmes that go on there.

After Shuangliou our visit to Taiwan was drawing to a close, just enough time to head down to Kenting, the most southern county of Taiwan to meet with staff there and complete our circum navigation of the fantastic country. After a day’s rest we took the high-speed train up the east coast back to Taipei where we said our goodbyes and board a plane having learnt a lot from the TFB staff we worked with, and shared some memorable experiences with the people of Taiwan.



Filling in the Gaps: Nov-Dec updates

29 01 2013

November was our last full month of teaching and with numerous group projects and PSA’s scheduled to take place, the month marked the end to a busy and successful teaching season here at Orielton. But even with the end of the year drawing close this was no time to rest on our laurels and with that in mind many of the education team have committed time for their individual projects and responsibilities.
Our very own Chris, Milly and Joe spent much of the month in Taiwan sharing field education techniques with other Taiwanese experts, a blog detailing this exciting project will soon be posted, watch this space!
With three of the team out of the country (sunbathing by a tranquil pool no doubt…), those of us in Orielton found plenty of tasks to be getting on with, Sarah being invited to Ysgol Brogwayn in Fishguard as part of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) programme, which focuses on inspiring future generations in areas of the labour market where there are significant skills shortages.
Alongside members of the police, fire service and others, Sarah used her 1 hour session to demonstrate energy transfer systems in freshwater ecology and to discuss the importance of ecology not only from an environmental standpoint but its wider implications across many different job sectors.
Sarah also found time to attain her level 4 qualification in PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Sector), attending a week long session at FSC Preston Montford, Alongside Catherine from our sister centre Dale Fort.
The Laundry Cottage has been given a much needed overhaul with our two new EA’s repainting the kitchen and living rooms, and designing a feature wall over the fireplace. EA cottage fireplace
We also say good bye to Cameron who started at Orielton earlier this year as an EA (although no one’s sure what his job title is now) and we wish him luck as he goes on the Trainee tutor scheme, to later join the FSC as a Tutor, we know he will be an invaluable asset to whichever centre he is employed by.

Orielton kicked off December by hosting a beach clean at our local adopted beach, West Angle Bay. With the beautiful brisk weather that is typical of this time of year, the turnout was high, with many of the team getting into the festive spirit, turning up in Christmassy head gear; the event was met with success and a good time enjoyed by all. The team managed to collect 28.8kg of litter from the beach, ensuring not only that local wildlife is protected from the consequences of litter but also that one of the most beautiful bays in the region maintains its status as a local jewel.
Martha, one of our dedicated tutors, organises and leads our beach cleans at West Angle and will be advertising our next beach clean in the new year, for details please watch this space for updates on our future beach cleans or check out our flyers that can often be found on the billboards in Angle village.
Throughout the month our EA’s have been working tirelessly on renovating the staff lab, which until recently had been used for storage. The room has now been restored to include;
– the EA’s new office,
– a work station for the repair of the centre’s extensive scientific lab & field equipment
– and the all new coffee corner!, which many of the staff are particularly excited about.

ESDGC Carmarthenshire

24 01 2013

Yesterday Joe and myself (Sarah) visited two schools in Carmarthenshire: Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor and Y Strade to talk to some of their staff and pupils about their ESDGC programmes.Image


ESDGC stands for “Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship” a mouthful of a title for an approach that aims to help students develop the knowledge, values and skills to participate in decisions about the way we do things individually and collectively, both locally and globally, that will improve the quality of life now without damaging the planet for the future. It is a whole curriculum approach to help pupils understand the links between society, economy and environment and between our own lives and those of people throughout the world. This approach is also vital for schools to achieve “outstanding” under the new Estyn framework.


There are seven key areas for study: wealth and poverty, identity and culture, choices and decisions, health, consumption and waste, climate change and natural environment. As an environmental organisation Orielton is committed to advocating many similar ideals so we have been able to get involved with these schools to help them achieve their ESDGC objectives.  


In mid November 2012 representatives from both schools attended a weekend residential course at Orielton where they participated in a range of activities related to ESDGC and to build their confidence as “Champions”, and then started thinking about what they would like to do back at their school.


Ysgol Glan-Y-Mor have decided to renovate an area of land to use as a pond so we went to visit the site and discuss a timescale of events to take place. In the spring we hope to visit the school again and help students clear out the area for the natural pond. Due to the proximity of other ponds, colonisation should occur quickly, however we have thought about taking a sample from our pond at Orielton just to kick things off!


Y Strade would like to develop a couple of plots of land within the school and have lots of ideas about things to do there! They are currently finishing building a greenhouse out of plastic bottles and are digging some plots to plant vegetables.


We look forward to visiting again soon and rolling up our sleeves to get these projects off the ground!

Annual January Training

23 01 2013

Every year the education teams of the FSC get together for a whole 5 days at the geographically central Preston Montford Centre, near Shrewsbury. The central position of this learning location helps keep our carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum but still allow valuable face-to-face training activities.

Everyone stays in the residential accommodation, usually occupied by students. Upon awakening on the Tuesday morning we were all treated to a beautiful, snowy, frosty scene. As well as enjoying a good catch up and being thoroughly well fed by the hospitality team, we did a lot of learning.

Image The first half of the week was dedicated to geography and the second half to biology. Our main focuses were keeping up to date with what the exam boards are up to, keeping up to date with the latest technology (ipads and geographical information systems) and also discussing proposed future changes to the curriculum.

Bye for now! Martha