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While not strictly a grant, the Nature Friendly Schools project offers free expert support for outdoor learning


WILDLIFE Make friends with


L


earning about the natural world in outdoor settings has been shown to build resilience and coping strategies in


pupils, supporting the development of social skills outside conventional classroom environments. That’s why the government is


funding a ground-breaking project called Nature Friendly Schools. The aim is to build teachers’ confidence and ability to drive forward outdoor learning, while at the same time removing current inequalities around access to nature – particularly among children living in more disadvantaged areas. Over three years (from April 2020


to March 2023), the project will work with more than 350 schools. Each


42 SPRING 2021 FundEd


school gets access (online and in person) to its own trio of experts in outdoor learning, mental health and wellbeing for one year. The team will work with the school on their identified barriers and concerns, supporting teachers in developing children’s social skills and interests, and helping pupils find and create calm places where nature can thrive. Nature Friendly Schools has been


designed to fuel creativity and a sense of adventure, allowing children to experience the joy that nature can bring. It will improve school grounds so that they’re more natural, with wildflower patches, sensory gardens and trails, container ponds and green spaces. The project is led by The Royal


Society of Wildlife Trusts, working in partnership with Resilience Through Nature Consortium members: YoungMinds, Groundwork, the Sensory Trust, Field Studies Council and six regional Wildlife Trusts. It will focus on schools with higher than average proportions of disadvantaged pupils. Funding has been provided by


the Department for Education, with support from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Natural England, as part of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan to encourage children to be close to nature.


n For more information, visit naturefriendlyschools.co.uk


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