What People Say

Footprints enriches lives, changes lives. With CCI the children will learn that the beauty of the countryside is theirs to enjoy, and ultimately, theirs to protect. The value of CCI to the children, to the local community, and to the preservation of the countryside will be immeasurable.

Michael Morpurgo, Patron of CCI (author and former Children’s Laureate)

Everybody should have an opportunity to explore outdoors just once a week….. It’s just great to be outside. I was fascinated by how my daughter was concentrating on tasks. …Isabella enjoyed it so much my concerns ebbed away…I think she would go every day if she could…She (the artist) bought new, fresh eyes and a really listening approach to working with children. She has the ability to make all learners feel valued, adults and children.

Parents at Barnwell Nature Reserve

Deb Wilenski and Caroline Wendling have watched and listened – patiently, perceptively – over months to these children, and what they have learnt from them is astonishing. To read this book is to see innocently again, and to renew your sense of words as being able to forge and conjure. It brims with the power of make-believe.

Robert Macfarlane (author of Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places and The Old Ways) about CCI's first fantastical guide

The booklet for families was an imaginative and useful resource for the website. Its contents led people down an imaginative path of their own choosing to investigate what could be seen, smelt, imagined and heard in the cemetery. The format of the self folding book provided an ideal resource that they could take around the cemetery with them and draw what they discovered in it.

Tamsin Wimshurst, Education Officer, Cambridge and Country Folk Museum, about Trail of Curiosity and Imagination

This continuous celebration and encouragement of stories has encouraged reluctant writers to engage. It may be the informal chance to write what they want how they want, the wish to hang their story books on the story line or to hear their stories during a circle time. It may be that they want an adult to scribe or the fact that they can take a home-made book to a quiet place in the woods, or lie on the rug in the centre of the woods, but what ever it is this combination of experiences and opportunities has encouraged the class to become authors and story tellers. Reluctant writers have been picking up pencils and mark making or phonetically writing single words or sentences. This is one of the major successes of the project; story writing.

Jane Taylor (Teacher, Shirley Primary) about storying in Bramblefields Nature Reserve

I’ve noticed lots of planning about what to do amongst them, not just out here but in the classroom and in the playground. I’m much more aware of it and I wonder if this has come through the deeper relationship that they have formed with each other.

Jane Taylor (Teacher, Shirley Primary) about relationships in Bramblefields Nature Reserve

This type of play where children have been particularly keen to show off their prowess with daring acrobatic moves seems to support and strengthen relationships, and this has transferred back to the classroom in the form of successful self-initiated collaborative activities, with long term exploration and co-operation working towards a common purpose. Children are becoming focussed on and paying attention to tiny detail. They are calm enough and have the time to discover, notice and appreciate the beauty of the flowers, insects and other natural objects, demonstrating their curiosity, enthusiasm and concentration. When considering how to develop and support children’s learning in literacy and numeracy, these opportunities to notice patterns and detail are invaluable.

Julie Chambers (educator, Shirley Primary School) about children's powers

Thus the authors make visible, develop in the old photographic sense, what it is the children are doing: the learning and creating which is taking place. They preserve and translate for adults what has been called the children’s ‘high intent’, that seriousness of purpose, however light-hearted, which animates children’s free activity and informs it with educational value. In doing this their miniature discloses another facet of itself. Argument as well as artefact, it reminds us in a time of objectives-led teaching, imposed curricula, ‘ability’-grouping and test-driven imperatives, that children are already adept interpreters, explorers, namers, discoverers and meaning-makers, and are avid to be trusted to be so. Look out for the flame-coloured cover of this finely-worked book, a flicker of that Promethean heat which sparks to life

Patrick Yarker, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Applied Research in Education at the University of East Anglia in Norwich

By helping children mentally to possess Hinchingbrooke Park, the Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination project is making some very important magic in young lives. My two children accelerate alarmingly as we approach entrances to woods. They are happiest playing among trees. They spin fabulous stories about bizarre forest inhabitants. Who am I to disagree? For me, as a parent, it provides wonderful access to a child-like state of imaginative play. It makes me remember my past, and re-access more fluid parts of my (increasingly ossified) brain. As a filmmaker I am inspired by the yarns they spin. I love to watch as nature lights their fires.

David Bond, director of Project Wild Thing, about Footprints projects

The Harvard Professor David Perkins talks about learning in captivity and learning ‘in the wild’ the ‘limitless universe’ there to be explored not by being told but by inquiring, asking questions, finding out – for yourself and with a little help from your friends. Keeping imagination and insight alive is made possible when there are ‘learning destinations’ (in the language of the Children’s University) such as Hinchingbrooke Country Park. Thankyou for sharing Ways into Hinchingbrooke Country Park. I plan to make it one of my next learning destinations.

John MacBeath, Professor Emeritus University of Cambridge and Chancellor of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire Children’s University

What surprised me? - just that every child was engaged, absolutely every child. I was concerned that a couple of children would stand around doing nothing but they didn’t stand around, they did different things, they did get involved…. And their resilience. From day one there were brambles everywhere but next week ‘we’ll fight them, we’ll get through there’. Just how much they get out of it. How rich an experience it is. It’s very hard to say one reason – that’s impossible, there are hundreds of things that have come out of it. It’s really hard. It has really really opened my eyes.

Leila Williman, reception teacher, Spinney Primary School

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination’s thoughtful and inclusive approach enabled us to work together as a team, to experience for ourselves the enormous potential for creative learning beyond the classroom and the day led us to very practical outcomes of how we could use the local environment to enhance the children’s learning.

Rachel Snape, Headteacher, Spinney Primary School

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