Simon Langton Girls’ School, a secondary and sixth form in Canterbury, Kent, is committed to helping young people understand the importance of biodiversity and their role in looking after it. As part of this, staff and students have been running biodiversity inspiration days for other local schools, where students can experience nature first hand and learn about the importance of protecting it.
Funding from the OVO Foundation Nature Prize has supported these events, providing healthy food and drinks for visiting classes and helping to break down any cost barriers so the days are open to all. The inspiration days are part of the school’s wider Biojoyversity project, creating opportunities for students to develop ideas for a better, cleaner, and greener world.
Sixth form and GCSE students from Simon Langton’s have been involved in designing and leading the inspiration days, and their aim is to embed a love of nature in the visiting students and encourage them to increase biodiversity in their own schools.
Classes from neighbouring primary schools are invited to Simon Langton’s campus where they take part in a full day of cross-curricular, nature related activities. The days combine science, music, arts, ecology, languages and wellbeing to show students that a holistic approach to climate action is needed.
Following this interconnected, cross-curricular approach, students take part in a wide range of activities, from building a bug hotel to take back to their school, to nature-themed German poetry workshops.
One of the most popular activities is pond dipping, where students find as many species as possible and use microscopes to take a closer look at their discoveries. The bug hunt and tree trail are equally popular: both effectively encourage students to connect with and learn about nature by getting their hands dirty. Students also make nature-themed badges and taking part in an outdoor music workshop, singing songs about the natural world.
Feedback from visiting staff and students has been fantastic – even young people who started the day a little apprehensive about bugs and the outdoors have been swept up in the fun. Becky Parker, physics teacher and Encompass lead, said the students’ reaction to the days was fantastic. She added: “One student said to another – ‘imagine missing this’ with such passion that we used it in the biodiversity video we produced with our Year 7s”.
Staff and students at Simon Langton’s hope the children take what they’ve learned during the day back to their schools and homes, whether that’s monitoring their bug hotel or doing their own tree trail. Simon Langton’s is a school with significant outdoor space and access to nature, and the biodiversity inspiration days are a great example of how such schools can share their resources with others and inspire actions to preserve biodiversity in the local area.
Schools can win the cash to implement a community nature project. Schools from disadvantaged areas with high pupil premium are particularly encouraged to apply.