The National Trust has joined Countryside Classroom, a partnership initiative aimed at helping teachers use the countryside and green spaces to inspire their pupils with a love for nature and an appreciation of where their food comes from.
In this blog first published on the Countryside Classroom website, the National Trust’s Head of Food and Farming, Rob Macklin, explains what the Trust is doing to connect children to nature through their schools.
In the gentle hills of the Cambridgeshire/Hertfordshire border sits Wimpole Hall Farm. A mixture of grazed parkland and arable, it’s our most visited farm and one of the few that the National Trust manages itself.
Thousands of children visit with their schools and families every year. The main attraction: being able to see a range of farm animals at close quarters. At a stroke they learn where their meat, eggs and milk actually come from.
Such encounters – whether to a farm, to a nature reserve or the countryside more generally – help reconnect children to nature and the land.
Why does that matter?
There’s a wealth of evidence to show that children are becoming more and more disconnected from nature.
Three years ago our Natural Childhood report brought together that evidence in one place.
Less than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago. Half of children under-12 can’t tell the difference between a bee and a wasp, yet nine out of ten can spot a Dalek.
Schools play a vital part in the fight to reconnect children with nature.
The National Trust has signed up to Countryside Classroom because we believe that all children should have the opportunity to connect with nature – through their schools as well as with their families.
The Trust is a national charity, looking after over five hundred historic houses, gardens, parks, farms, open countryside and coastline across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Hundreds of thousands of children visit our places with their school every year.
Since 2012 our list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ has been getting children out on outdoor adventures big and small. Teachers have challenged their classes to complete the list over the holidays. You can download all 50 things from our website or get in touch with us for copies of the scrapbook for your class.
We offer schools led and self-led visits to our places. Get in touch with your local National Trust place to arrange a visit with your class. Visit our places for free by getting Educational Group Membership for your school and help us look after our places for ever, for everyone.
Find out more about Countryside Classroom at www.countrysideclassroom.org.uk.