A GROUND-breaking UK-wide education pilot supporting disadvantaged pupils as they return to school is beating the drum on the importance of children being able to spend time outdoors with nature.
Experts in delivering education in school grounds, the charity Learning through Landscapes (LtL) delivered the ground-breaking programme in 49 schools providing over 700 hours of support to 1029 children across the UK during their return to school following the first lockdown.
The, My School, My Planet programme was funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The £275k pilot programme supported children from disadvantaged ethnic groups and low-income families to re-engage with learning as pupils transitioned into the new academic year.
Participating pupils were offered academic learning focused on three core subjects as a way of engaging them with their outdoor environment and supporting their wellbeing.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis children from ethnically diverse backgrounds and low-income families have reported spending far less time outdoors than those from white families or higher-income families.
The project directly addresses this imbalance by working in schools in some of the hardest hit areas, from Greenock in Inverclyde, Scotland to Blackburn in the north of England.
To fully support disadvantaged pupils LtL worked with key partners including Louder Than Words acultural consultancy; who embedded a truly unique approach to inclusivity and diversity throughout the project.
This approach supported pupils in one school from diverse ethnic backgrounds to link their learning about local biodiversity and migratory species to countries their families come from. LtL also engaged with and listened to the voices of young environmental activists to understand the issues faced by disadvantaged young people.
Carley Sefton, Chief Executive at Learning through Landscapes, said: “It is a birth right that all people should have access to nature, I find it heart-breaking that some of the most vulnerable children in our communities are once again missing out.
“We know that time spent outdoors helps reduce stress and improve physical and mental health as well as giving children a sense of ownership over the planet.
“I’m incredibly proud of the My School, My Planet project and the work it is doing to improve the lives of children and young people during this difficult time.”