Learning through Nature
"Experience of the natural world at an early age can provide the spark for life-long environmental enjoyment, awareness and involvement"
Human activities threaten the environment and wildlife both locally and internationally. Informed decisions on how we utilise finite resources are vital. Young people of today need to be equipped with an understanding of their natural environment so that they become wise guardians of the earth’s future.
Learning through nature can provide young people with first hand experience, leading to a greater understanding of our dependence on the earth’s life support systems.
Building on a wealth of in-house knowledge and over twelve years experience of working with schools CONE can provide the following services:
- Advise schools on the development of their school grounds to:
- create habitats for wildlife
- improve the outdoor environment by making the grounds both more stimulating for play and peaceful for quiet times
- provide an outdoor classroom to support all areas of work across the National Curriculum
- Write management plans for the school wildlife areas
- Work with teachers, parents and youngsters to create and manage wildlife areas
- Work with teachers on resources for use in schools grounds to support National Curriculum work
- Work with teachers, parents and youngsters to promote good environmental practice throughout the whole school and how this can support wildlife and our wellbeing. This is done through CONE’s Worldly Wisdom project and the Encams Eco-schools project
- Provide units of work to support the Citizenship programme of study
- Organise and support practical projects on particular environmental issues e.g. recycling, feeding wild birds, the importance of wildflowers
- Organise and support practical environmental education visits to local industrial sites and green spaces
- Facilitate links with national and local environmental bodies which can support the schools
- Provide a newsletter three times a year to promote examples of good practice
These services have been developed to meet the ever changing needs of the schools and the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Benefits to Education
Creative and well managed school grounds are an extension to the classroom providing opportunities for practical “hands on” experiential learning in all areas of the curriculum.
The Department of Education and Skills scheme of work on Citizenship (May, 2003) includes units of work on “developing school grounds” and “people and the environment”, for Key stages 1,2 and 3 children. The Science curriculum (May, 2003) includes growing plants, planting trees, plants and animals in their local environment and habitats, whilst the Geography curriculum focuses on activities to improve the local environment.
The Early Years Curriculum focuses on the school grounds being an extension of the indoor classroom to be used where appropriate for all areas of learning.
English Nature’s “See the Difference” (2002) comments that it is a recognised fact that children in schools set in green grounds are more responsive to education.
School grounds are gradually becoming an integral part of OFSTED school inspections. Schools with Beacon status are expected to develop their outdoor facilities for recreation and learning.
For some young people school grounds provide the only regular experience of the outdoors. Children can spend up to 28% of their school day in the school grounds which can provide challenging opportunities for fun, work, rest and play.
Managing and caring for the myriad of habitats and the plants and creatures in each habitat helps young people to develop a sense of responsibility and belonging.
These kinds of activities provide opportunities for young people to ‘Do their bit’ and increase their understanding of sustainable development at a personal, local, national and global level.
They also contribute to the health and wellbeing of children and young people at a time when lifestyles of the young are becoming increasingly passive.
Learning “life long skills” such as growing flowers and vegetables can help young people work in a group, communicate and gain confidence and self esteem. Many of these skills can lead to an interest in outdoor leisure activities or future employment.
In essence a school that takes action to include the environment in the curriculum will benefit from:
- A unique and varied context for learning
- Opportunities for pupils to ‘Do their Bit’ and increase their understanding of sustainable development at a personal, local, national and global level
- Supporting biodiversity and therefore contributing to a better quality of life for all
- Developing active, responsible and caring citizens providing experience of what it means to be stakeholders in a democracy
How to get involved
If you are interested in your school benefiting from this service then please contact Rob Caton on 01670 542371