Levelling up opportunities to environmental education
School trips are often some of the brightest highlights and longest lasting memories of a childs school career. The hands-on, experiential learning that takes place on outdoor trips can bring topics to life, being in a new and exciting environment can help students feel more engaged and motivated. These special experiences can form the foundation of life-long interests.
Todays schoolchildren – ‘Generation Alpha’ – are the future custodians of the planet. By helping to engage and connect these children with the natural world, we can instil a sense of care and responsibility that translates into positive environmental action.
Yet those from disadvantaged areas of Oxfordshire have very limited access to environmental education experiences, a problem exacerbated during the pandemic when many services were halted.
In 2022 and 2023, we have worked with Beard Charitable Foundation and Lucy Group to remove the barriers of cost and transport to resource stretched schools enabling them to provide valuable outdoor learning experiences to their pupils and extending environmental consciousness to youngsters from all social backgrounds.
What we are doing
Our goal is to use the cumulative effect of repeated visits, to inspire pupils and embed a deeper understanding of the benefits of being in nature, its importance for their future, and how they can nurture it.
Earth Trust’s team works in advance with teachers to plan the curriculum and maximise value both from the visit and from the follow-up learning activities in the classroom. Our first cohort of children visited in 2022, with a second visit in April 2023. A second and third cohort visited 12 July 2023.
Many of these pupils (particularly those in Year 3 classes) had never been on a school trip, due to the Covid pandemic, and have never visited a large green space.
Visits have included topics such as “Sensational Stone Age”, learning about our ancestors and their relationship with our natural heritage. Other activities include den building to develop hands-on skills, exploration in the forest to encourage curiosity and a hike up the Clumps – described as the “top of the mountain” by one child – to foster a sense of achievement and wonder.
“I loved looking at all the artefacts and trying to imagine what life was like back then.”
“This was one of the best trips ever, I didn’t even get tired but my teacher did.”
Earth Trust’s goal is to encourage a life-long relationship with nature. As students become increasingly excited about being outdoors in nature, they are more inspired to make pro-environment choices with activities at home or in their school community. They are also more likely to encourage their parents to visit natural spaces and then share learnings with other family members.
This project has reached approximately 90 children from 2 schools.
“A fantastic trip with a wide range of activities and engagement points for all. Even in bad weather, staff made it fun, engaging and full of learning.”
Paul Higgins, Head Teacher
About our funders
Founded by the Beard family in 2016 to mark 125 years in business, the Beard Charitable Foundation aims to support the Beard family and Beard employees in their charitable and community pursuits. Beard is a family-run construction company that is proud of its people first ethos and its longstanding commitment to supporting the communities where it works and investing in the next generation.
“Our values drive our commitment to educating and training future generations, providing employment opportunities to excluded or underrepresented groups, and reducing demand for public services. For over 130 years, we have and continue to play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, the environment and developing a strong and resilient economy, enabling our customers to deliver a quantifiable social return on their investments.”
Lucy Group is an international business that is making the built environment more sustainable. Their purpose is to improve people’s lives with intelligent power, smart lighting and sustainable homes. As a 200-year old enterprise, the Group has a long tradition of donating to good causes, actively improving the natural environment and supporting the communities in which they operate. The company has an extensive CSR programme, mapped directly to their declared UN Sustainable Development Goals and benchmarked against the ISO 26000 Social Responsibility standard.