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Pupils learn about planning

14th May 2012

Primary school children in the Cairngorms National Park will find out more about how and why their local area is shaped from a planning perspective this week.

On Wednesday 16 May, Planners from Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) will work with P5-6 school pupils from Aviemore and Abernethy Primary Schools on how their local environment is shaped. On Thursday 17 May it will be the turn of P4-7 pupils from Ballater and Braemar Primary Schools.

The IMBY (‘In My Back Yard’) project has been designed by PAS to introduce school pupils across Scotland to the planning process. This involves making choices, compromise, considering different needs and long-term thinking.

The events are being organised in conjunction with the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA). Senior Planning Officer, Mary Grier, said: “A volunteer planning professional has visited both primary schools to introduce some basic concepts of planning to the children.

“Using a local, hypothetical case study, the children will now look at the present, past and potential future use of the area, discussing needs and benefits to different members of the community. How their local area has been designed and developed, who makes planning decisions and some of the planning processes will also be addressed.”

The IMBY programme is aligned to the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE). It is a positive approach to engaging with children in local planning and the built environment, encouraging active citizenship – a key element in CfE.

Kathryn Hume, Education Manager for Planning Aid for Scotland said: “The IMBY project offers primary school children a new and innovative opportunity to consider how they can have a say in the future of their communities. We are looking forward to working with the pupils in the Cairngorms National Park and hearing their ideas about how they would like to see their local environment develop.”

Rona Smith from Aviemore Primary School said: “Children can often offer some unique, creative and innovative ideas when asked to approach subjects of which they have little or no experience. We are therefore looking forward to finding out not only what their perceptions are of the area they live in but what their take will be on how the environment could be improved.”

Louise Duckworth from Ballater Primary School said: “Developing a greater awareness of their local environment through projects like ‘In My Back Yard’ helps encourage children to understand the many and varied factors that must be taken into account when effectively planning and undertaking new developments. It will be interesting to find out how they respond to these, especially using the backdrop of the Cairngorms National Park.”

A CNPA Board member will be invited to take part in a presentation by the children at a later date. CNPA Board Member Jaci Douglas said: “This project involves the planner and teacher working together to help encourage the children to take an active role in the future development of their own community. It will also help to raise awareness of the distinct sense of place and identity of communities in the National Park and I am really hoping to be able to go along to the presentations and hear what the children have learned.”

CNPA Deputy Planning Chairman Peter Argyle said: “Effective planning helps maintain the National Park as a special place for people and nature. Engaging with young people like this therefore helps to develop long-term awareness of their surroundings which in turn helps develop sustainable future communities.”