• paul76187

Education, Education, Education


two young children examine a ladybird



GREAT credit to Mary Colwell, who, after a great deal of lobbying, has secured a GCSE in Natural History and don’t we need it. I hope it is not treated like art has been in the past, as a second-class qualification—Nature, as is Art, are worthy qualifications.



My concern is that you don’t choose your GCSEs until you are 13 and I believe that a passion for Nature starts a lot earlier and should therefore be part of early years education. Personally, I was lucky—being born and living in a small rural village in Nottinghamshire, I was immersed in Nature from a young age. We could watch barn owls hunting the orchard that surrounded our house or spend days newting in several ponds in the village fields. I picked and pressed wildflowers with my mum and found birds’ nests on my walk to and from school.



Both my grandads were countrymen: one fished the other loved his rough shooting, as well as the occasional ‘one for the pot’ poaching foray. I was therefore exposed to Nature all the time—taking it all in and learning all the while. I was also fortunate that a love of Nature was encouraged in my family. Sadly, not all children are as blessed. This is where primary/junior schools can make all the difference. You can teach pupils all about Nature in the classroom, but you cannot beat the outdoor experience Nature should be smelt, felt, seen and heard—it stimulates all our senses.


teacher walks with children in a forest

Nature walks are simple and effective ways of getting children out in the countryside and up close with wildlife. You don’t have to see golden eagles or beavers, there is always something going on even in the most built-up areas. A mole hill can open a whole new subterranean world, not to mention worms, beetles and soil drainage, or simply stopping, smelling and listening to the bees buzzing around a lime tree in flower. It’s all out there and it’s all happening—all it needs is enthusiastic adults to make it accessible to children.


Nature walks and nature tables, which encourage youngsters to bring in Nature’s flotsam and jetsam and a cup or a prize at the end of the year is a great stimulus for children to engage with the great outdoors.


Ultimately, we need more young people to understand the difference between natural history and conservation.


Simon Lester



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