Connecting schools with nature

The BES is delighted to launch our ‘Connecting Schools to nature in North East England” outreach project.

About the project

Through our ‘Connecting schools to nature in North East England’ project we will inspire over 10,000 pupils from 50 schools, provide training to more than 350 teachers, and help close the Covid skills gap by upskilling 50 ‘Environmental Educators of Tomorrow’. The project will result in the green transformation of participating schools through a series of workshops where pupils and teachers will be introduced to the fascinating world of ecology and learn all about their local wildlife. Supported by the development of an engaging digital learning hub, the project will also enable pupils and teachers to act as a network of citizen scientists to record the wildlife they see in and around their school. For a full overview of the project and to meet the team behind it, you can download the full project brief below. We are currently in the process of developing the format and content of the program and would love to hear from both teachers and aspiring environmental educators in the region who are interested in participating – find out how you can take part below.

How to get involved

For Ecologists and Educators

As part of the project, the BES is also providing training to 50 early career ecologists and upskilling them as environmental educators. These roles will benefit from:

  • Personal and group training in the development and delivery of schools outreach, covering topics such as science communication, training with ecological equipment, and practical conservation work
  • Verification of volunteer effort that can contribute to your professional development portfolio e.g. CPD for professionals, logged hours for wider volunteering schemes, or contributions to graduate/PhD portfolios e.g. Researchfish
  • Personalised careers advice on CVs, interviews, and grant-writing
  • Access to exclusive digital training resources in science communication and public engagement
  • The scope and responsibility to design, develop and deliver memorable and inspiring activities for pupils
  • The opportunity to develop a close relationship with your assigned school, teachers, and BES staff with opportunities to tap into subsequent networking opportunities
  • A written letter of recommendation and/or LinkedIn testimonial
  • Option to enrol in free 12 month BES membership for first-time student members

Whether you’re an ecology-obsessed undergraduate, hobby natural historian, or retiree with an interest in education – we want to hear from you! You can read more about what to expect as a volunteer educator in our briefing document above. Aspiring environmental educators can now sign up to the project via the link below. Applications close on the 10th December so early expression of interest is encouraged.

APPLY TO JOIN THE PROJECT HERE

DOWNLOAD OUR Short Project Brief HERE

 

For Teachers

Participating schools will gain access to a series of teacher training events and workshops delivered in schools by our team. These will be structured into three modules covering mammals, insects and birds, with a strong focus on UK species. There will be opportunities for participating teachers to co-create resources and work alongside ecologists to plan how the project can best benefit their school. An accompanying digital hub will provide a platform for schools to access learning materials, connect with other participating schools, and take on the role of citizen scientists to help monitor local wildlife.

On successful application to the project, each school will receive:

  • More than £1000 worth of equipment and materials e.g. camera traps, bird-feeding stations, litter pickers
  • Three classroom workshops delivered throughout the year by BES staff and volunteers
  • One teacher per school will take part in a teacher training program with access to free teacher training workshops, one-to-one support from ecologists and informal opportunities for professional development
  • Access to tailor-made learning materials and resources, including lesson plans, with links to the National Curriculum to support teaching
  • Access to an online digital hub to take part in national citizen science projects and connect with other participating schools

The exact details of the workshop content and digital hub will be developed in close partnership with teachers so that we can provide the best experience for each school. Teachers can expect to receive regular communications throughout the project and be supported by BES staff and an assigned volunteer(s). We do not wish, nor anticipate, this project to be a large extra workload for teachers, but rather a way of supporting schools to develop their grounds and current teaching on nature-related topics in order to achieve long-term benefits. We would however like teachers to commit to attending a minimum of four short teacher training workshops (in-person, virtually, or catch up sessions to suit your schedule), and to maintain contact with BES staff and volunteers throughout the project.

There will be 50 core primary schools around the north east of England who will be enrolled in the full program, with scope for additional schools to have access to resources and other support where possible. Schools in the core 50 will be selected based on those we believe will benefit the most from the project (based on previous research) and to ensure we have a diversity of teachers and schools participating. Any primary school in the North East region is welcome to apply.

Applications for schools have now closed but if you have any questions about the project, please do get in touch via the contact details below.

 

Schools Outreach Day pupils at Ushaw College, Durham

Keep in touch

For opportunities to get involved in the project, follow us on our Newsletter and social media @BritishEcolSoc or @BES_careers. If you are interested in submitting an early expression of interest or would like to make a general enquiry, please get in touch with either alexa@britishecologicalsociety.org or sammy@britishecologicalsociety.org for more information. 

About our Funders

This project is funded by a £248,700 grant provided by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency – you can read more about our funders and the inspiration behind the project via our official announcement page.