Bringing children and nature together


  • All the data for Big Schools' Birdwatch is in.

    At last, all the data from the website and all that has been sent via the post has been collated. An enormous thank you to every school, club, family – every single person that has taken part in this year’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch.

    The data will now spend a few weeks with our scientists who will analyse it and find out the top ten birds for 2015 – as well as finding the top ten birds for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It will be interesting to see how the fortunes of our birds have changed since last year.

    Whilst we’re all waiting for the results to come out, do remember that if you log onto your account for Big Schools’ Birdwatch you obtain access to some data handling software, allowing you to compare your own data for this year to your data from last year, or, if you didn’t take part last year, to compare this year’s data to the UK average for last year: rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

    The results should be out in a few weeks time. I will be posting a summary on the blog when they are released and everyone that took part should receive a letter and a free 'pond-life' poster on the same day.

    Until then, consider following us on Twitter @RSPB_Learning for our latest education news.

    Credit: Paul Chesterfield (rspb-images.com)

    A little egret, a slightly more unusual species recorded by at least one school during this year's Big Schools' Birdwatch

  • Children and the Natural Environment

    A report has been published recently by Natural England that reveals how much access the nation’s children have to the natural environment.

    Natural England, along with Defra, English Heritage and King’s College London, have worked with MENE - the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment – to survey for the first time the experiences the under 16s have in green spaces.

    Credit to Andy Hay

    There are a few findings that stand out as being particularly relevant to the work of the RSPB, especially considering our recent study which revealed that only one fifth of UK children were connected to nature.

    The Natural England report lends additional weight to our results. They found that 12% of children ‘rarely visited the natural environment’ – children that, in the past 12 months, stated that they had ‘never’ normally visited any green space. That’s approximately 1.3 million children that say that they didn’t visit a natural area in the past year. If children don’t experience nature, how can they connect with it? Care about it?

    The report also highlighted the importance of local ‘managed’ green spaces to children, with, in an average month, 47% of all UK children visiting a local urban park. That’s approximately 4.8 million children that utilise local green spaces.

    Additionally, the report discovered a strong, but not particularly unexpected, association between the frequency of visits taken by the adults to the natural environment and children living in the same household. In households where adults frequently visited the natural environment (i.e. at least once a week), 80% of children were also frequent visitors. By contrast, in households where adults rarely (or never) visited the natural environment the proportion of children frequently visiting the natural environment was 39%. This result doesn’t seem particularly suprising when you consider the massive decline in children being allowed the freedom to explore and play outside without adult supervision. Less than 10% of children today play in natural spaces, compared to 40% of people forty years ago.

    It’s not all doom and gloom though. The RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts are calling for legislation to ensure all people can access local natural spaces and learn to care for nature, as part of a Nature and Wellbeing Bill. You can help us and join in by emailing your MP today. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #actfornature

  • Guest post from The Coach House Day Nursery Forest School

    The children at The Coach House Day Nursery Forest School took part in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch.  Leading up to the survey the Forest School leaders talked to the children about counting the birds.  They made bird feeders to encourage as many types of birds as they could in the weeks leading up to the bird count.  The group of children went out into the Forest.

    First they listened to see if they could hear the bird calls and they followed the sounds.  The children were given a sheet with pictures of the birds and they then had to count and mark down each time they saw one of the birds shown on the sheet.  The children crept up behind the trees and bushes in an attempt not to scare the birds away, trying to be as quiet as they could. 

    The Coach House Forest School will send their results off to the RSPB to be included in their count.

    We saw;

    1 Magpie,

    1 Robin

    1 Blackbird,

    2 Wood pigeons 

    5  Blue tits