Nearly 30,000 school children from disadvantaged areas are set to enjoy classes in nature this spring in an outdoor learning project spearheaded by The Wildlife Trusts.
Nature Friendly Schools, which is led by The Wildlife Trusts and supported by a consortium of outdoor learning and mental health organisations, has launched a new phase of its overall project of giving children from some of the poorest communities the opportunity to learn outside the classroom, while supporting their wellbeing, mental health and engagement with school.
The project will see Nature Friendly Schools work with more than 100 schools in areas of the highest levels of social deprivation to give almost 30,000 pupils opportunities to learn and play in nature as part of their education recovery following a year of isolation and virtual education.
Despite the pandemic, the project has already worked in 90 schools, enabling 16,000 pupils to benefit from learning in nature, training 500 teachers in outdoor learning and supporting pupils’ mental health and transforming 30 school grounds.
Craig Bennet, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “Learning in nature boosts children’s well-being, confidence, and behaviour, and should be a fundamental part of a child’s experience in education. We’re delighted at the success of the project so far.”
“We know that children in deprived areas are much less likely to have contact with nature while the pandemic also increased screen-based learning. The new phase of Nature Friendly Schools is more important than ever for them.”
Craig Bennet, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts.
The project was initially planned to run over four years, benefiting more than 100,000 primary and secondary pupils, but with funding not guaranteed for the final year, up to 46,000 pupils are expected to take part.
Bennet continued: “In spite of its proven success, the Nature Friendly Schools initiative is not guaranteed to see out its final year. We believe the need for this project has never been greater and it is vital it continues so we can give more children opportunities to learn, play and get creative in wild, green spaces.”