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 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.
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 outreach visits
We welcome school visits to four sites in Northern Ireland:
- In partnership with the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Greenmount and Enniskillen College.
- Visits by appointment to our nature reserves at Portmore Lough and Belfast's Window on Wildlife.
School outreach visits - early years and primary
We are unable to facilitate visits to schools at present, as our very small education team is being redirected to support our conservation colleagues working to protect some of our most threatened species and habitats.
Our Wild Challenge Programme for both schools and families, has many useful activities and resources that will engage children and help you to formulate an achievable plan for helping nature. This perfectly supports both the Biodiversity and Outdoor Learning topics of Eco Schools.
Also check out our teacher resource page where new programmes will be available later this year.