‘It’s given the children a love of wildlife’: the schools letting nature in

Feb 17, 2018 by

Photo by Luca Huter on Unsplash

In school fields and communities, pupils are learning about the fragility of nature – and restoring depleted environments

After the long slog of winter, pupils at Evelyn Community primary school in Merseyside are getting outside with a mission in mind: to count and record the number of different bird species in the school grounds. The challenge is part of the Big School’s Bird Watch, an event which last year involved 73,000 school children and their teachers.

But the children have been taking an active interest in the wildlife at their school for a while. Since creating a garden in an unused corner of their field more than two years ago, the pupils have attracted a variety of birds. They’ve planted wildflower seeds, created a vegetable plot, made bird nests, and learned about biodiversity. The school has a wicker bird hide and has bought binoculars to encourage bird spotting all year round.

The school’s headteacher, Carole Arnold, says the impact of the children’s work on biodiversity in the garden has been significant. A group of 12 children spend time in the garden each week, for a full term, before giving a new group their turn. “Our school field had absolutely no birds at all [before]. It’s really given the children a love of wildlife,” she says. “We use it with some vulnerable children as well who sometimes need help to be calm.”

The number of schools using gardens and the natural world to teach students continues to increase. The campaign for school gardening, a programme run by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), now has 20,000 school members, with 81% growing plants specifically to attract wildlife and pollinators.

“Biodiversity underpins everything,” says campaign manager Alana Cama. “Particularly in urban areas, kids don’t understand how life cycles work, or can’t make the connection between what they’re seeing in the garden to the food in supermarkets. We’re trying to encourage schools to create wildflower meadows and spaces so you have almost a network across the UK where pollinators can travel. It’s quite important [for them] to understand that the small changes they make in their garden can make a big impact on the environment.”

Source: ‘It’s given the children a love of wildlife’: the schools letting nature in | Teacher Network | The Guardian

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