Nature Park set to boost outdoor education experiences
18 May 2023
Youngsters will soon get the chance to learn more about their changing environment as the University of Reading gets set to welcome more school children to its award-winning campus.
The Department for Education has today (May 18) launched its National Education Nature Park initiative, which aims to provide young learners with greater access to green spaces.
The National Education Nature Park will bring together all the land from across education settings into a vast virtual nature park. It will enable children and young people to get involved in taking practical action to improve the biodiversity of their setting and see over time how the virtual park changes.
As part of the scheme, the University is set to develop its own Nature Park from the autumn offer more outdoor learning opportunities for local school children.
The aim of developing the Nature Park is to help young people gain a deeper appreciation of our changing climate. They will learn more about the future of our natural world by engaging in practical conservation work and developing skills such as data collection, species identification, and habitat management that can be taken back to their school or college.
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: "Understanding climate and environmental sustainability is what many of our grown-up scientists are well known for, so we want to give the next generation a helping hand at the start of their own missions to make our world a better place to live.
“Our Nature Park will only be a small part of the national but we hope it will go a long way to helping local children connect with their environment and inspire them to protect our planet.”
Outdoor learning leaders
As the University prepares to develop new opportunities for local pupils to have enriching learning experiences, local children can already benefit from outdoor education at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL).
To mark Outdoor Classroom Day (Thursday, 18 May), the Museum is reminding local school leaders that they can access Outdoor Classroom Workshops, in which students explore a range of herbs, plants, and in the .
The MERL is following in the footsteps of a rich and long history of outdoor learning at the University of Reading. Outdoor learning pioneer, Eliza Chattaway, a primary education specialist in the early 20th Century taught at the University College Reading (the precursor to the University) as well as being headteacher of local schools. In 1912 her publication School Nature Rambles recognized the educational benefits of time spent outdoors.
From world-leading research informing policymakers to educating the next generation of climate experts, the University is sharing its climate expertise with its local and global communities so they can prepare now for an uncertain future.
This includes launching the Climate Ambassador programme which connects climate experts with children in classrooms up and down the UK. More than 100 organisations and individuals have signed up to the scheme since it launched in April 2022.
This means more schools are being supported to reach net zero, more students are learning about the impact of global warming, and more is being done to make school buildings resilient to extreme weather.