Guest blog post by Phil Burfield, Education Policy Officer for the RSPB
Now, let me know if I’m wrong, but I expect that everyone reading this blog has special childhood memories of nature that have remained with you through your life, and inspire you to save nature and help children learn about it?
I have many – one that stands out is walking from my grandparents’ house down to the Thames Estuary to see flocks of brent geese flying in to over-winter on the mudflats. It was truly spectacular to see, and still motivates me in my work today.
So, this Friday, I feel lucky to be presenting the RSPB’s latest research about children’s connection to nature in a seminar at our annual Members’ Weekend in York.
You might remember us launching this study last October which resulted in the startling finding that only 21% of children in the UK are connected to nature. On Friday afternoon I’ll be sharing some of the stories behind that research and what we are doing to try to connect all children with nature. I’ll also be including some of the unexpected findings that we are curious to find out more about!
To top it all off, I will be introducing the exciting new research projects we have just started (thanks to further generous funding from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation). The first of these will measure teenagers’ connection to nature, just as we have done already for 8-12 year-olds. The second is going to look further into children’s connection, and begin to explore how it relates to their health, education, and likelihood of them taking action to save nature.
All of our research findings – including all the information you need to measure children’s connection to nature yourself – are available from rspb.org.uk/connectionmeasure
Thanks for that, Phil. I'll look forward to seeing your talk this coming weekend. If you're joining us for RSPB Member's Weekend (or are interested in finding out what's going on), then please consider following us on twitter @RSPB_Learning. There is likely to be a lot of activity around the hashhtag #RSPBWeekend.
It seems almost unnecessary to have a blog post explaining all the results of 2014’s Big Schools’ Birdwatch to you, as every single school, club and organisation will have received a letter about the results and thanking them for taking part (as well a beautiful certificate and a fantastic minibeast poster).
However, I thought I might as well run through the results for the sake of those people that didn’t manage to take part this year (or forgot to submit their results!). The top 25 birds recorded by schools, in order from most commonly to least commonly recorded, are:
3 Carrion Crow
5 House Sparrow
6 Black-Headed Gull
7 Blue Tit
8 Common Gull
11 Feral Pigeon
14 Great Tit
15 Collared Dove
16 Herring Gull
18 Pied Wagtail
19 Coal Tit
20 Long-Tailed Tit
24 Song Thrush
The major changes in abundance compared to last year are that carrion crows have climbed to third position, displacing black-headed gulls which have dropped to sixth place. Most other species are in roughly the same position as last year (give or take) with the exception of greenfinch and goldfinch, which have almost swapped position compared to last year.
It was also interesting to note that most species were seen in smaller numbers compared to last year – this is thought to be due to the unusually mild weather conditions, which meant that there was a plentiful amount of ‘wild food’ (berries, insects etc.,) available, so birds weren’t forced to feed in gardens, parks and school grounds. Notable exceptions to this were gulls and crows, who tend to favour large, grassy areas (such as school fields) to forage on; their overall abundance has stayed pretty steady.
If you and/or your school is interested in the Big Schools Birdwatch data, then it is all available to download from http://www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch/results/index.aspx. If your school has already downloaded the data for a data-handling activity, or has undertaken some other activity with your existing data, then I’d love to see some pictures, or possibly even a write up for our blog. If you’re interested in submitting something for the blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.
I’ll be writing another blog post in the coming weeks suggesting some ideas and activities for the wonderful minibeast posters that were sent out with your certificates – keep your eye out for it!
To keep up to date with latest RSPB education news, follow us on Twitter @RSPB_Learning
Making the case
Do you need evidence to help make the case for your environmental education teaching, or to find approaches that really work? Then the SEEd ‘Evidence for Sustainability in Education’ event on 26th March might be for you.
Taking place in central London, this forum will explore evidence of practice, impact and needs with a full and diverse group of experts and practitioners. The day will collate an evidence database for you and your work, looking at evidence from early years through school, further education and into professional life.
Bring your own stories, your case studies and your evidence: SEEd wants to start telling the story of education for sustainability in the UK with your help, and want to learn about and share the newest ideas about measuring evidence and best practice.
Full details and registration: se-ed.co.uk/edu/policy-forum-2014
To keep up to date with latest RSPB education news, consider following us on twitter @RSPB_Learning