Bringing nature into schools

Studies show that while concern for the environment is high, active engagement with nature is lacking, especially among children in urban areas and underserved communities. To address this issue, Earth Trust launched the Inspiring Future Green Leaders programme in September 2023, with funding from the Brickability Group Foundation Trust, to bring nature in to schools and classrooms across Reading.

By 2026, we aim to reach 800 children who may otherwise have limited access to green spaces, engaging them in real-world STEM learning and connecting them with nature. So far, 240 students from four schools have participated, taking inspiration from a funded visit to Earth Trust to embark on their own school sustainability projects.

Stuart Ritchie, our Environmental Education Manager, has been leading the programme and visiting each school to help them implement their green space improvements.


Bringing nature indoors

One of the significant challenges faced at E.P. Collier Primary School was its limited outdoor space. In response, Stuart created an innovative indoor solution to ensure students could still experience and study nature closely.

Inspired by the containerised wildlife pond we installed in our Earth Lab Kitchen Garden, Stuart delivered resources to provide each Year 5 class with a mini ‘pond tank’ in their classroom. This fascinating resource allows students to observe and study aquatic creatures and ecosystems first-hand. With simple equipment like USB microscopes, the science learning opportunities are immense and the response from both students and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive.

brickability inspiring future green leaders project bringing nature into school classrooms

“The children have been using vocabulary learned from Earth Trust when talking in the playground, about seeing the bees and climate change, which is really good to hear. We are very proud to have been a part of this.”

Sherine Ahmed, Year 6 teacher at E.P. Collier Primary School

A proactive approach

Caversham Park Primary School took a highly proactive approach in planning their project. The staff leveraged the opportunity, combining funds from a Tesco Award with our project’s budget, to create a comprehensive garden area for all students, and initiated an after-school gardening club that involves every year group.

Through our collaborative project day, and the dedicated efforts of the school staff, their new garden has become a valuable space for the whole school community and students are engaging  enthusiastically with it.

caversham park school garden project

Brickability Caversham Primary

The transformative power of real-world learning

The ‘Inspiring Future Green Leaders’ programme is more than just a series of school visits. It’s about creating lasting connections between children and the natural world. Real-world science experiences, such as the Climate Culture Day, have been integral. These activities teach students about data collection and environmental impacts, making complex concepts like the greenhouse effect more accessible and tangible.

Our long-term vision for the programme is to foster ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing among participating schools. By the end of the three-year project, we hope to see schools networking and sharing their learnings and next steps with each other, building on the resources and knowledge gained, ensuring the sustainability of these environmental initiatives.

Reflecting on the past year, Stuart highlights the impact of the programme: “The children’s enthusiasm and engagement have been incredible. From their initial visits to Earth Trust, they’ve returned to their schools inspired to make real changes, whether it’s creating a vegetable garden or bringing nature indoors. These projects benefit not just the participating year groups but the entire school community.”

Looking ahead

We are excited to continue this journey of cultivating future green leaders and are now actively recruiting schools for the second year of the project so we’re encouraging schools in Reading to get in touch with us. Spaces are limited.

Thameside Primary School and Oak Tree School, a school for learners with an Education Healthcare Plan (EHCP), have confirmed their participation for the upcoming academic year. Both schools were recommended by teachers involved in the first year, highlighting the project’s positive impact on encouraging collaboration.