Nature Schools

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

You might (or not) have caught the BBC's brief news item saying that the Wildlife Trusts are planning to set up a Trust to run four nature schools.  The Nature Schools website says:

"A team led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is working with specialist educational consultants to create a charitable company limited by guarantee called a Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  This MAT will apply to the Department for Education for permission to create four new primary schools in England.  These schools will be established through the government’s free school programme.  By writing the outline for their educational philosophy, the Wildlife Trusts can influence how the schools teach their pupils.  Our plan is for one school in the following locations; Nuneaton, Warwickshire, Devon (location to be confirmed), Chippenham, Wiltshire and Smethwick in the West Midlands.  If successful we intend to create more schools in the future."

This is a development to welcome.  The Nature Schools website says:

"Education is one of our charitable purposes – the reason why we exist.  Our long track record of delivering education to 100,000s of children each year has shown us the benefits of learning in a natural setting.  It has also demonstrated the limitations of this learning if it is a one-off addition to a child’s other education.  By using a school’s local environment as a place for learning and a medium for learning we believe children’s education will be enhanced.   At the same time we believe children's relationship with their local environment will be nurtured, strengthened and deepened

Commendably, the website also says this:

"Greener school environments (such as the presence of natural features in the playground) have been linked with better motor skills [1], psychological restoration [2], and rates of physical activity [3]

[1] Fjørtoft, I., Landscape as Playscape: The Effects of Natural Environments on Children’s Play and Motor Development. Children, Youth and Environments, 2004. 14(2): p. 21-44.,

[2] Bagot, K.L., F.C.L. Allen, and S. Toukhsati, Perceived restorativeness of children's school playground environments: Nature, playground features and play period experiences. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2015. 41: p. 1-9.,

[3] Fjørtoft, I., B. Kristoffersen, and J. Sageie, Children in schoolyards: Tracking movement patterns and physical activity in schoolyards using global positioning system and heart rate monitoring. Landscape and Urban Planning, 2009. 93(3–4): p. 210-217.

How this evolves will be instructive, particularly seeing how DfE manages the permissions process.  The problem here is that, in order to set up an innovative free school, you have to pass all sorts of bureaucratic tests that have been designed to demonstrate just how mainstream (ie, un-innovative) you are.  Then there's the question of how to manage the balance between the outdoor and nature elements ... .  As I said, a development to welcome, but will it be environmental education ...



Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • This is very exciting! I think it might be time to move to Nuneaton.