School trips to RSPB Nature Reserves

Getting out in nature has never been more important for our young people and as the UK’s largest nature conservation charity it’s fantastic to know we are delivering hands-on nature education to such a high number of children across the UK. The RSPB has a fantastic network of reserves across the country and 16 of these are dedicated to delivering high quality, curriculum-linked school trips.

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A group of school children being lead through a long grass meadow by their teacher.
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This year our nature reserves are celebrating one of their most successful Summer Terms, with a noted increase in the number of school visits.

Pre-covid, over 32,000 children from across England, Scotland and Wales took part in the Schools on Reserves programme and early indications show that this number could be smashed this year.

Three children sat on a wooden bench outside of their school.

Outdoor learning

Outdoor learning provides an opportunity for children to use knowledge they have learnt in the classroom in a practical context.  This can encourage a deeper understanding and can make what can sometimes seem quite abstract concepts come to life.

Teachers often comment on how valuable it is for children to see these things for themselves.  Across the country we meet lots of children who have very limited experience of the natural world.  Our learning sessions provide unique encounters, allowing visiting pupils to be immersed in habitats and this can be very exciting.

Studies show that learning outdoors builds children’s confidence and encourages the use of different learning styles, which are more easily accessed in a non-classroom environment.

When young people make a connection with nature, whether a pond invertebrate or habitat, the excitement is tangible. It awakens curiosity and energises them to ask questions and find out more.  It also allows them to explore further and delve deeper into topics such as food chains or adaptations in nature.   

Our sessions allow children to use equipment, work scientifically and use technical vocabulary in meaningful contexts too. However, they can also be used holistically, providing inspiration for writing stories and poems in other subjects including English as well as adding to studies of local History. 

Two children outside of their school building, one in a red coat writing on a clipboard and the other in a green coat looking through binoculars.

What do we do?

Our dedicated Education Teams across the regions and countries have a suite of sessions that encourage discovery, exploration and hands-on learning.  We ensure that the visit is fun, informative and well connected to the habitats on each site.  Ranging from woodland to coastal and wetland sites, each experience is unique.

The nature-based suite of sessions on offer are all curriculum linked, primarily to Science and Geography. Sessions for early years and primary are available at all sites, with some also offering sessions for secondary students as well as SEND pupils. 

Educational visits can benefit SEND pupils - the visual and sensory experiences available can deepen their understanding of topics, helping them to engage with people and activities outside the classroom.

An adult in RSPB uniform and a child holding a pond dipping net, both crouched on decking by the edge of a pond.

What’s next?

Autumn is a wonderful time of year on our reserves and a school trip is a great way to bond with a class.  School trips are an essential part of a child’s education and connecting children to the natural world is so important.  A trip like this can be just the beginning for any budding conservationist.  In the current climate we need our children to have this deep understanding and connection to nature in order to empower them to fight for its protection and security.

What can you do?

If you know a teacher, learning assistant or parent who might be interested in finding out more about school visits to our reserves and benefit from these wonderful experiences, head to our Schools on Reserves page to find out more.

Two children crouched next to a small sandbox, shovelling sand in.

Find out more

The RSPB also offers a range of activities, resources and opportunities that support teachers to take learning outdoors and inspire students to discover and delight in nature when back in the classroom and school grounds.

Discover Schools' Wild Challenge 

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