Children take part in biggest wildlife survey in schools

By Jenna Hutber

Friday 3 January 2020

A group of school children using binoculars look up to the sky during an RSPB bird watching activity

School children will be starting the new year by learning about the incredible wildlife on their back-door steps and taking part in the 2020 RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch.

Every day teachers remind their pupils to keep their attention on their studies inside. But this spring term teachers will be asking children to focus on the natural world outside and help count the birds that call their school grounds home.

The Birdwatch – which takes place during the first half of the spring term (6 Jan – 21 Feb) – is a chance for children and their teachers to discover the nature that lives in their local community. The Birdwatch involves children spending an hour watching and counting the birds that visit their outdoor space, before sending the results to the RSPB.

With over a million school children taking part since its launch in 2002, the RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect opportunity to incorporate outdoor learning into the curriculum even during the winter months.

Last year, 60,000 children and teachers took part counting more than 100,000 birds. The blackbird was the most numerous species with an average of 8 per school; and was seen in 89% of all schools that took part.

Robins, house sparrows and woodpigeons all featured prominently in the results, and with over 70 difference species recorded, there are sure to be a few surprises in schools around the country.

Rachael Albon, RSPB Big Schools’ Birdwatch Co-ordinator said: “Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a fun, educational activity which is free to every school in the UK. It’s flexible enough to deliver curriculum learning during lesson time or be used as part of a school-based club in any age group or curriculum.

“It also gives children an opportunity to get outside, experience and learn about wildlife local to them. The Birdwatch is the perfect chance to experience nature first hand, generate genuine data for children to use and contribute to a national citizen science project.”

The Big Schools Birdwatch is a free activity and only takes an hour to complete. Teachers can pick any day during the first half of the spring term to take part, with the flexibility to run it as a one off or as the centre piece of a cross-curricular study, enrichment activity or a way for the children to improve their outdoor space as part of completing their Wild Challenge Award.

Many schools prepare for the event in advance by taking measures to give nature a home in their school grounds, such as putting up feeders and nestboxes and making bird cake. Seeing and counting the birds coming to their feeders during the Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect reward for their efforts.

To take part in the Birdwatch and help the next generation of children start their own wildlife adventure, visit

The Big Schools' Birdwatch is the school version of the Big Garden Birdwatch – the world's biggest garden wildlife survey. The event will take place over three days on 25, 26 and 27 January 2020 and further information can be found on the RSPB website

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