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LAFARGE Summer School Visits Turn Quarry Into Outdoor Classroom

ONE of Britain’s biggest granite quarries is launching its summer season of school visits to emphasis safety messages and help teachers bring the national curriculum to life.

More than 800 pupils from schools around Leicestershire will tour Mountsorrel Quarry near Loughborough before the summer ends.

Older students, scientists and foreign exchange visitors will also see the site, operated by Lafarge Aggregates & Concrete UK, but primary age children will make up the majority of the audience. Another five schools are scheduled to tour in the next month with more in the pipeline.

The aims are to show youngsters that quarries are not a playground as well as tying into lessons about rocks and soils, the environment, and industry and nature. The visits also provide an opportunity to build positive relationships within the community.

First school on site was Kestrels’ Field Primary, from the Hamilton estate just outside Leicester city centre.

Teachers and helpers escorted 46 youngsters from Year 3 on the trip aboard an Ausden Clark coach with Kim Shaw and Felicity O’Grady as Lafarge quarry guides.

Kim, who has worked at Mountsorrel for four years, said:

“Between May and July we are really busy with school visits and other tours. Health and safety is our primary concern and we ensure all the adults wear appropriate protective clothing and the children wear reflective vests, hard-hats and goggles.
“We tell the children why these precautions are taken and during the tour we explain that quarries are not playgrounds and can be dangerous places if you are not trained to work there.
“In particular we point out the hazards involved with quarry lakes which appear so enticing but can be deadly places to swim in because they are so deep, cold and steep-sided.”

On the tour the children were able to look into the quarry itself from the visitor viewpoint, get up close and personal with a parked digger and watch an excavator load piles of granite into 100 tonne dump trucks.

Jos Turnor, teacher at Kestrels’ Field, said the visit formed an important part of the children’s studies.

“We focus on the health and safety aspect but we also link the visit to many areas of the curriculum, including rocks and soils, the environment, industrial responsibility and even art.
“It’s a great experience for the children to come on a visit to Mountsorrel because it is something they would not normally have the opportunity to see. It’s just been fantastic.”

Eight-year-old Alfie Shipley had brought along a pair of binoculars to ensure he got the best view of the quarry.

Suitably impressed he said:

“My favourite bit was when we went into the quarry because we could see all the big trucks.
“I learnt about all the thousands of rocks and I learnt that wearing your helmet and goggles is very important.”

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