Bringing rural learning to life with The Princes Foundation at Dumfries House

The Princes Foundation - The Education Team at Dumfries House, Ayrshire.

Bringing rural learning to life

Dumfries House estate was saved for the nation by The Prince of Wales in 2007 and is now used to help people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence and personal development, as well as offer training in real-life skills to open up future employment opportunities. The Prince’s Foundation, formed last year as a result of the consolidation of Dumfries House Trust and other charities, has its headquarters at Dumfries House. It is now the second-largest employer in East Ayrshire with more than 250 full-time and part-time staff across the house, estate and education and training programmes.

Our education programmes cater for a wide range of ages and outcomes and last year we welcomed more than 8000 participants to the estate from schools all over Scotland. Every workshop run by The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House is directly linked to Curriculum for Excellence or industry training needs.

The estate is home to a diverse portfolio of education centres offering a range of hands-on, experiential workshops which are based around outdoor activity, science, engineering, healthy eating, hospitality, sewing and textiles, farming, horticulture and food education.

Our determination to bring the rural outdoors to life for school children is exemplified by our collaboration with other education groups to bring learning to life.

Our farm, gardens, textiles, STEM and outdoor centres hosted over 200 secondary school girls for interactive workshops as part of a collaborative event with East Ayrshire Council's outdoor learning team.  'Women in Wellies' highlighted the vast range of outdoor careers available to women, particularly in STEM and rural sectors.

Our annual Festival of Farming event runs in partnership with RHET Ayrshire and Arran. In 2019, with the assistance of over 70 staff and volunteers 500 primary school children visited Valentin's Education Farm, taking part in over 20 exciting and engaging sessions in one day.

At the festival, children had the opportunity to learn about a range of topics, including caring for animals, gun-dogs, butchery, dairy farming, bee-keeping, and how an auction operates.

Lucy Kirk, P4 teacher at Troon Primary School, said: “The kids have been entranced by it. It’s been a brilliant day. There’s such a variety of activities here. We’ve learned about how wool is made, learned about pigs, and seen horses having their shoes changed.Farming was a recent topic of ours so to come out and experience it is much more interesting than staying in the classroom. The children are responding really well to outdoor learning and Dumfries House is such a beautiful place to do that.”

In September 2019 Dumfries House will host its first 'Countryside Careers Day' in partnership with RHET Ayrshire and Arran, aimed at 300 S1 and S2 secondary school pupils from across Ayrshire and Glasgow, bringing to life the rich variety of career opportunities available in Scotland's land based sector.

Dumfries House Education is passionate about engaging learners with the outdoors and promoting all that rural Scotland has to offer in terms of education, health and well-being and employment opportunities.