We commissioned research that shows primary age children who plant trees feel they're ‘doing their bit’ to help the environment and remember it as a significant experience, even into their teenage years.
Last year, a large scale Natural Connections study delivered by Plymouth University and funded by Defra, Natural England and Historic England concluded that outdoor learning benefits both children and teachers. The four-year project gave teachers the chance to take their lessons outdoors with some 40,000 primary and secondary school pupils giving the experience top marks.
92% of teachers surveyed said that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors and 85% saw a positive impact on their behaviour.
The study also found teachers were more motivated with 79% reporting positive impacts on their teaching practice. Almost 70% said that outdoor learning had a positive impact on their job satisfaction and a similar number reported improved health and well-being.
Green Tree Schools Award
Our free Green Tree Schools Award can give you and your pupils the same feeling, setting them up for life with a passion for the great outdoors.
Schools gain points for completing activities and progress through bronze, silver and gold levels to the prestigious platinum award. Certificates mark the completion of each stage and schools receive wooden plaques when they reach gold and platinum.
There are a variety of hands-on, educational activities you can do, all designed to encourage your pupils to explore the natural world around them and use their imaginations, including planting trees, visiting your local wood and exploring different viewpoints through photography. There are also challenges around recycling and reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption.
One of the top-scoring activities on the award is becoming a Schools Woodland Ambassador. Pupils are encouraged to visit a wood and then deliver a play or presentation to the whole school about their experience. They then take it further by communicating what they’ve learned and the exciting discoveries they’ve made to a wider audience.
Woodland art and animal tracking
One school which has signed up to the scheme is the aptly-named Outwoods Edge Primary School in Loughborough. Pupils went for a walk in their local wood and made journey sticks to chart their adventure.
After pinpointing their location on a map they collected twigs and leaves to create art on the woodland floor then searched for tracks to discover which animals lived in the wood.
Teacher Richard Onions said it was a valuable experience:
"The visit delivered a number of curriculum objectives in a very real and practical way, particularly in science, art and geography. It also had scope to meet many maths and English objectives and to use the trip as a stimulus to work back in the classroom.
We also found the trip a really good opportunity to engage with pupils who sometimes struggle to sit still or focus in a classroom. Having the space to move and explore really benefited them in terms of behaviour for learning."
Sign up to Green Tree Schools today
If your school has yet to sign up to the award, why wait another term?