The Wildlife Trusts are asking people to support a new online campaign to boost more outdoor learning in nature for children.
The Wildlife Trusts, a federation of 46 independent wildlife conservation charities, have called for “more outdoor wild time at school” following a recent poll of 1,000 people which showed that people believe children do not spend enough time enjoying the natural world and should spend more of their school time learning outdoors in nature.
Of those surveyed, 76% believed that learning outside enabled children to understand and experience things that cannot be taught in a classroom.
The findings from the poll were echoed by young people involved in Our Bright Future, a £33 million programme led by The Wildlife Trusts and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
When young people on the programme were asked, ‘if you could change one thing for you and the environment, what would this be?’ one of the top three requests was for more outdoor education and more learning about nature.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said it was “no surprise” that young people wanted to learn as much as possible about nature “in order to tackle the damaged world they are inheriting”.
He added: “As well as boosting academic learning, young people’s physical and mental health can all be improved by a strong connection to nature.”
It has been widely proven that regular contact with nature makes children healthier happier, and better able to learn and a recent study commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts found that children’s wellbeing increased after spending time in nature.
Simrat Mavi, deputy headteacher at St Giles CE Primary School, Walsall, said that learning outdoors included gains for the most vulnerable pupils, including an “increase in self-esteem, confidence and engagement with their peers and learning”.
About Our Bright Future
Following the disruption and isolation suffered by many children as a result of the pandemic, the Our Bright Future programme believes outdoor learning can play a vital role in improving the mental wellbeing of young people, as well as improving their academic outcomes.
The partnership is formed of 31 projects across the UK, with each project helping secondary school aged children learn vital skills and improve their wellbeing.
Roberta Antonaci, policy and advocacy manager at Our Bright Future, said that young people taking part in the projects had told her how the outdoors “calms them down and reduces their stress”.
She said: “They say that being outside enables them to truly be themselves and learn more, whereas in the classroom everyone is always talking and they don’t always get a chance to listen.”