With the news breaking that record numbers of children are now developing short sightedness; teachers have got more reason than ever before to get their pupils outside.
Last month scientists from University College London revealed evidence for what they’re calling an epidemic of short sightedness in the UK.
Their research suggested that 20 per cent of UK teens are now suffering from some sort of myopia, compared to just ten per cent in the 1960s.
Some of the research team have gone so far as to say the rising trend of myopia could be the start of a serious public health problem, as short sightedness has been linked to cataracts, glaucoma and even blindness in later life.
And the cause? Experts believe that myopia is on the rise because children aren’t spending enough time outside.
A strong evidence base exists to suggest that spending time in the great outdoors can prevent short sightedness. The mechanism? When light gets to a certain intensity the chemical dopamine is released within the eye. In turn dopamine stops the elongation of the back of the eye that causes myopia.
With this research in mind, here are a few ideas for school trips to destinations and attractions that combine curriculum-linked studies with time in the great outdoors.
Bodenham Arboretum, Worcestershire
There are more than 3,000 species of trees at Bodenham, from fruit trees to Beech. Pools and hillsides are also part of the landscape. Curriculum-linked forest school sessions are run at the site in all weathers. Activities on offer include den building, natural art, storytelling, mini beast hunts, backwoods cooking, and natural Maths sessions.
Eden Project, Cornwall
Both day trips and residentials are available at the Eden Project in Cornwall. An A to Z of curriculum linked workshops is available at the attraction. Sessions take place everywhere from Eden’s rainforest biomes to the open spaces at the site. Options include studying ‘chocology’, biodiversity, business branding and – for fun – pupils can spend some quality outdoor time on Eden’s outdoor adventures like its zip lines and 30 foot climbing wall.
Cambridge University Botanical Garden
The ethos of Cambridge University Botanic Garden’s education team is to encourage both Primary and Secondary children to ‘learn to look’. In addition to its landscape gardens and plant collections, there is also its own Schools Garden, where pupils can learn how vegetables and fruits are grown. Assisted and teacher-led visits are available here. On assisted visits, workshops can be booked on everything from Key Stage 3 plant science to Key Stage 1 outdoor Maths.
Beesands Beach, Devon
The education company Forest & Beach runs Beach School sessions on Beesands Beach in Devon. All trips are tailored to reflect the school’s curriculum needs and can include study on topics such as the identification of marine flora and fauna to shelter building, learning about the Science of the tides, and beach art. Forest & Beach also has a farm a 20-minute walk from the beach, where further learning sessions can be arranged.
Sherwood Forest Education Centre, Nottinghamshire
Sherwood Forest Education centre works with both local schools and those located out of the area to tailor curriculum-linked trips in the open air. Visiting classes can study everything from animal homes and orienteering to the history and myth of Robin Hood and Medieval life.