You know, I really should learn to save drafts of these blogs... this is the second time I've written this! It all went wrong yesterday! (Fingres crossed this time)
I wanted to tell you about the exciting event we held last month. On Friday 24 June we hosted a special visit from local councilors and students from St. Albans Girls School. The Year 8 girls gained first hand experience of the natural world through investigations of the habitats and species of Rye Meads and went pond dipping to ascertain the water quality.
Here you can see three of the girls from St Alban's Girls School pond dipping. Standing (from left to right) is Linda Haysey (Conservative Party Councillor for Local Hertford Rural South), Peter Ruffles (Conservative Party Councillor for Hertfordshire County Council), Caroline Gellor (RSPB Education Officer), Sally Newton (Mayor of Hertford), and Margaret Chapman (Head Teacher of St Albans Girls School).
Photo by Keith Bedford.
The event was part of a UK-wide initiative to get every child outdoors. It’s a response to a call from teachers for more outside facilities to ensure all children and young people have the opportunity to have contact with, and learn from, nature.
Sally Newton (Mayor of Hertford), Peter Ruffles (Conservative Party Councillor for Hertfordshire County Council), Linda Haysey (Conservative Party Councillor for Local Hertford Rural South), Dick and Alison Warn (from the steering group Transition Hertford) saw first-hand how children benefit from contact with nature and heard from their teachers about the value of these experiences educationally.
Sally Newton said: “I felt I’ve gone back to my childhood! If any child comes here and has seen what I have they’ll love it, and they’ll bring their children one day too! There is a lot that can be done to help wildlife, even in town –just growing some flowers that are good for wildlife will help”.
Peter Ruffles said: “Nature is beauty itself. It’s been an extraordinary pleasure being here today, it’s an urban oasis that we can enjoy. Having someone to lead children through their education experience is important”.
Linda Haysey said: “for children to get out and explore nature is fantastic – too see, touch and smell is education in itself. Children gain so much from learning outside the classroom”. Dick Warn said: “it is essential for children to reconnect with the natural world as their ultimate provider – it provides us with food, clean air and more; the future of which depends on us”.
From left to right you can see Sally Newton, Louise Moss (thats me), Peter Ruffles, Linda Haysey, Dick Warn (from the steering group Tranistion Hertford), Martyn Foster (RSPB London Manager) and Alison Warn (from the steering group Transition Hertford) all watching a very obliging watervole!
The visit follows the publication of new research, commissioned by the RSPB, from Ipsos MORI, that asked teachers what would encourage them to do more of their teaching outdoors. After additional funding, primary teachers said that the thing they need to do more of their teaching outdoors was greater access to outside classrooms and outdoors facilities.
Science Teacher Mr. John Blades, from St Albans Girls School said: “We see our visit to Rye Meads as an essential part of the curriculum. It provides our students with a chance to experience activities which we couldn’t offer at school. It also gives students a chance to enjoy nature up close, and to find out more about the work required to create the conditions in which wildlife thrives.”
Mrs. Margaret Chapman, Head Teacher of St Albans Girls School said: “At St Albans Girl’s School we are delighted to visit Rye Meads again which allows our students to bring the classroom alive. The enthusiasm of our girls to be involved in the natural world is a joy to see and their enjoyment of the varied activities during the day made our visit a really worthwhile learning experience.”
Did you know that Rye Meads provides opportunities for 3000 who take part in the field teaching programme each year! The reserve also holds the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom’s Quality badge – a kite mark recently introduced to demonstrate the high quality of outdoor learning that takes place as well as their health and safety procedures.
We showed our visitors the wildilfe of Rye Meads, from the biggest to the smallest! Here we are looking for minibeasts - we're turning our special logs to see what craetures were underneath (we found woodlouse, centipedes, beetles, ants, slugs, snails, and even newts!)
Rye Meads’ Education Officer Caroline Gellor said: “I believe first-hand experience of the natural world is essential for children's wellbeing and development. Time and time again at Rye Meads nature reserve, I’ve seen children show their teachers a new side to their abilities and personalities when they’re investigating the natural world. Children, who we’re told are difficult, are magically transformed into cooperative and responsible people when they have direct contact with nature. For these children it’s like an awakening as they discover the awe and wonder that nature inspires.”
Here Caroline is showing Sally Newton and Peter Ruffles some of the facinating pond creatures!