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Every Child Should Experience a Night Under the Stars

Click on the image to read press coverage about the Essential Life Skills Programme 2019

In conjunction with the Department of Education and Doncaster Opportunity Area, Austerfield Study Centre was selected to provide courses in Essential Life Skills throughout 2019.

This programme saw £22 million invested across 12 areas of the country and is part of the DfE's vision of an education system that prepares young people for life in modern Britain, regardless of where they grow up. Through implementation of its Children and Young People's Plan, Doncaster seeks to become the "most child-friendly borough" in the country by 2020, ensuring the best outcomes for its young people and improving social mobility.

As one of the chosen delivery partners for this local plan, our scheme offered extra-curricular activities to children aged 5-18 from some of the most disadvantaged areas, and included after-school sessions and some two and three day residential visits. Our programme of outdoor pursuits involved survival skills, orienteering and fire-lighting and was designed to broaden young people's horizons and give them new opportunities to develop skills in leadership and teamwork. By helping them to build other non-cognitive skills such as confidence, character and resilience, the long term aim was to improve their self worth - the "can-do" attitude. Motivating these young people to engage in new activities and spend time in the great outdoors also helped them to develop respect and empathy for the environment and others, whilst taking part in some fun activities. The feedback from schools was that many of those children attending had later demonstrated improved focus in classroom activities as well as a better overall attitude to learning.

Some further funding was received earlier this year from the Tween Bridge Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund. We will be able to offer the chance to take part in our Essential Life Skills package to additional children from deprived areas, once the current lockdown is relaxed, and we can do so whilst adhering to appropriate social distancing measures.

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New Pond Shelter

We recently received a grant of £2,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery to fund the installation of a shelter beside our on-site pond.

The wooden structure, which was designed and built by a local carpenter, provides shade in summer and shelter from the elements for groups doing pond dipping activities.

Equipped with storage benches to hold trays, the children are able to identify what they have caught from our pond life guides.

We would like to thank all who supported us in completing this project – and particularly the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

To learn more about their work please see

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Funding News

Building Futures

Housebuilder supports Doncaster youth causes.


     Two Doncaster good causes focused on the health of young people are set to receive £1,000 grants from a leading housebuilder.

Thorne Rugby Club and Friends of Austerfield Study Centre have been selected by Persimmon Homes South Yorkshire to collect the funding through its Building Futures scheme, which aims to support community groups working with under-18s.

The Thornensians Lionesses at Thorne Rugby club will use the money for new training kit and equipment, while Friends of Austerfield Study Centre plans to create a new outdoor self-contained learning camp.

Jaime Evans, from the Thornensians Lionesses, said: “We are delighted to have received this donation from Persimmon Homes. We plan to get new training clothing and equipment ready for when we can start playing together again. This is a huge boost to the girls and gives them something to look forward to.” 


Austerfield Study Centre is an outdoor education centre providing activities linked to the national curriculum, as Sarah Sutton explains.

“We use our rural outdoor learning setting to teach young people new skills and help promote team building and problem-solving techniques,” she said. “Persimmon Homes’ donation will help us to create a new self-contained camp site on a neighbouring field, enabling us to provide accommodation for two school groups simultaneously. We are very grateful.”

Richard Hosie, director in charge of Persimmon Homes South Yorkshire, said: “We are so proud of the difference our Building Futures scheme can make to the grassroots organisations working every day within our local communities.”

Building Futures will see £1million given away across Britain to regional charities, groups, sports clubs and schools to improve local facilities and the delivery of vital community projects across three categories – education & arts, health and sport.

In addition to hundreds of local donations of £1,000, 96 initiatives will go on to compete for top prizes of £100,000 through a national online public vote with the overall winners announced in October.

In each sector – education & arts, health and sport – as well as a £100,000 first prize, there will be a £50,000 second prize and a £20,000 third prize, while a further 87 shortlisted projects will each receive £5,000.

Co-op Local Community Fund scheme

We are delighted to announce that customers of the Co-op have raised £1,111.57 to support us in funding a wooden gazebo for shelter outside. Once we have raised further funds we will be able to begin this project.

Our grateful thanks for all those who supported us by donating in this scheme!