Young children playing in Bluebell Wood, Norfolk

Education in Northern Ireland

The RSPB believes that nature should be part of every child’s life. A 'connection to nature' brings benefits to education, health, wellbeing and social skills. We’re committed to getting the children of Northern Ireland closer to nature.

Connection to nature

There is strong evidence that as each year passes children are spending less time outdoors - and becoming ‘disconnected’ from nature. 

When young people are connected to nature, it has positive impacts on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and personal and social skills, and helps them to become responsible and active citizens.

Research has found that only 25 per cent of children in Northern Ireland have a good connection to nature.

At the same time, the UK’s nature is in deep trouble. The State of Nature report found that 60 per cent of species assessed had declined during recent decades. Even some of our most familiar species, such as hedgehogs, sparrows and starlings, have suffered population declines. 

Nature needs children to help change the future for the better, and children need nature, too.

Boy looking for minibeasts
Boy looking for minibeasts

How we help

Every year, we help around 20,000 young people at our outdoor learning sites or through outreach visits to schools and youth groups.

As well as giving children an ‘up-close’ connection to nature, we want them to feel empowered to help to protect, enhance and celebrate nature and to understand the importance of their contribution to a sustainable world. 

Outdoor education and fieldwork - adequately planned and effectively followed-up - offer young people opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in ways that add value to their everyday experiences. 

We also believe that outdoor learning in the natural environment should be embedded in the NI Curriculum and backed up with training for teachers at all stages of their careers. 

We already see many schools which are keen to, or already are, actively integrating outdoor learning into a variety of curriculum areas. A co-ordinated approach within the curriculum would enable all schools to help pupils achieve their potential in and out of the classroom.

School visits and outreach

School visits

We welcome school visits to four sites in Northern Ireland:

Outreach 

RSPB NI also offers a range of outreach programmes tailored to each Key Stage and relevant to curriculum topics. 

For younger children, we use toys to help them create ideas for giving nature a home at school or in their own gardens. We can show them how to help wildlife with fun activities like making bird feeders or growing sunflowers, before finishing off with a walk around the school grounds spotting wildlife and planning new ways to help it.

For older pupils, we offer an ‘Introduction to wildlife in the school grounds’ outdoor session, themed around how to create homes for nature, followed by either a mini beast hunt in school grounds or preparing for the Big Schools’ Birdwatch survey (depending on the time of year).

Students may also discover how birds are adapted to different habitats using jigsaws and a fun game about swallows or blue tits. We also offer a session themed around the birds that migrate each year to and from Northern Ireland, finishing with a game and activities. 

The cost is £60 for the first hour and £20 for each additional hour.

For more information about our outreach programmes, or to make a booking enquiry, please call 02890 491547 or email catherine.oboyle@rspb.org.uk.