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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 17:30 GMT
School pupils offered free maps
group of students orienteering
Map skills are taught in schools already
About 750,000 schoolchildren throughout Britain are being offered free Ordnance Survey maps of their own areas.

To get them, their teachers have to apply for them, but every pupil in Year 7 - Primary 7 in Scotland - is entitled to a 1:25,000 scale Explorer map.

The Ordnance Survey (OS) - the national mapping agency - says it will deliver the maps to schools in time for the autumn term.

But they will then be the children's to take home and use.

Schools also benefit

Schools themselves get a free map for every 25 they distribute.

Climber Sir Chris Bonington
Climber Sir Chris Bonington hopes more youngsters will get out and about
Education ministers have applauded the 5m initiative.

England's Estelle Morris said: "Geography plays a vital role in helping children to understand the environment in which they are living.

"Children will benefit enormously from learning about how familiar places in their lives, such as their home or school, form part of the many diverse communities in this country."

Walker

In Scotland, Cathy Jamieson said maps were a regular feature of everyone's lives.

"For children they can provide the stimulus to find out more about where they live, their immediate surroundings, and the wider world.

"Anything which instils a thirst for learning should be welcomed."

Wales's Jane Davidson describes herself as a keen walker and map reader.

"Maps make places come alive and tell us secrets that we can't see otherwise," she said.

Maps are an integral part of the mandatory or recommended curriculums in the three countries.

Teachers have from now until 31 May to register their orders for free maps online at www.ordsvy.gov.uk.

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