Pupils from across the North East have been getting closer to nature thanks to a pioneering scheme run by the British Ecological Society.
Children from Laurel Avenue Primary School in Durham recently took part in a Green Transformation Day, involving tree-planting, bird watching and nature-based arts and crafts, highlighting the importance of native woodlands and the species they planted.
This was part of the British Ecological Society’s ‘Connecting schools to nature in North East England’ project, which has been helping 10,000 school children across 47 primary schools in the region to reconnect with nature. Wildflower meadows, hedgehog highways and insect hotels have been created, while camera traps have enabled pupils to discover and monitor the wildlife in their schools.
Professor Philip Stephens of Durham University, who is one of the project partners, said:
“Children in the North East of England have been shown to spend less time outdoors than anywhere else in the country and have limited opportunities to access nature. At the same time, the region is one of the least densely populated regions of England, leaving plenty of potential areas for nature regeneration and becoming a UK biodiversity haven.”
The project has also provided ecology training to teachers and upskilled 44 volunteers who have been helping to deliver biodiversity enhancements to school grounds. If successful, the project is expected to be rolled out across the country.
Hannah Milne, a teacher at Willington Primary, County Durham, said:
“The children have particularly enjoyed the online platform, learning how to spot mammals and using the footprint traps. It’s given their outdoor learning purpose and their interest in nature has soared.”
Michelle Trotter, a teacher at Dunn Street Primary In Jarrow, added:
“This has changed the way our children look after our environment.
“Children regularly ask for the litter pickers and to look after our hedgehogs daily – they are excited to learn and to know more about the natural world.
“The equipment has been amazing to use – I’ve shown camera trap images to the whole school and staff who were blown away with what we found.”
The project has enabled North East schools to bring wildlife to their grounds, giving local children the chance to explore and appreciate their natural environment.