New research commissioned by WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust has found that schools across the country have a lack of nature-friendly spaces to help inspire the next generation of nature lovers.
The research, by The Education Company, found that half (50.47%) of schools in the UK say that none of their pupils have daily opportunities to spend free time or play in a nature-rich environment at school, suggesting that school grounds do not include nature-rich spaces.
The study also found that not enough schools are embedding outdoor learning into their curriculum – particularly secondary schools, where only 40% of respondents said that some pupils have access.
There is increasing evidence that time spent outdoors can improve mental wellbeing and learning.
And at a time when a third of young people regularly experience anxiety, giving children the opportunity to connect with nature is all the more important.
While some schools are already taking steps to enable their pupils to engage with nature through activities like school trips and extra-curricular clubs, in order to nurture a love of nature in a whole generation, it is essential that schools are empowered to provide regular opportunities for all pupils to engage with the natural world.
‘With wildlife in catastrophic decline in the UK and around the world, we should all try to give nature a helping hand. When given support and the space to think creatively, we’ve seen how schools can turn the smallest, greyest school grounds into an oasis for wildlife, helping young people to find a valuable connection with the natural world around them.
‘I’ve been inspired by nature my whole life and have looked to nature whenever life has felt overwhelming. I’d love for every child in the country to feel the benefits of connecting with nature while they grow up. Schools can help make that possible, and I believe that schools that invite nature into their grounds become better places for learning and play, while giving local wildlife a much-needed home.’
Wildlife TV presenter, zoologist and ambassador for WWF and the RSPB
Together, WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust are supporting schoolchildren to create wilder places in schoolgrounds and become the next generation of nature champions.
From 12-18 June, schoolchildren across the UK will celebrate and showcase the results of the projects they have undertaken to help save nature.
Whether they’ve made wildlife ponds for frogs, built nest boxes for breeding birds or planted wildflower meadows for pollinators, schools will open their gates to their local community to share how they have made their grounds a safe haven for wildlife under threat.
Schools For Nature is part of the organisations’ Save Our Wild Isles campaign, which calls on all parts of society, including young people, to take urgent action to protect and restore UK nature.
The UK is in the top 10% of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, with over 40% of our species in decline.
During the Schools For Nature national week of celebration, WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust will be joined by The Wildlife Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Woodland Trust to shine a spotlight on the positive contributions that schools have been making to help nature this academic year.
Schools who have already taken part or who register their actions during Schools For Nature week will receive a certificate signed by Sir David Attenborough.
The organisations have been supporting schools to welcome nature into their classrooms and schoolgrounds through a series of live lessons, award schemes, personal development for teachers and online resources, including information on how they can share their successes and achievements with their local community.