Out of the classroom and into the wild: school pupils enjoy a day of outdoor education at the University of Hertfordshire

20 May 2022

The University of Hertfordshire welcomed school pupils from across the county to their pop-up outdoor education centre this week, giving young people the opportunity to explore a range of activities to better understand and look after the natural world.

The University’s rural Bayfordbury campus – home to natural woodlands and wildlife, as well as the University’s observatory – played host to primary and secondary school children on Thursday 19 May, helping them to get immersed in the natural environment and challenge the way they think about it.

The event was led by staff and students from the University’s Outdoor Environmental Education postgraduate degree, part of the School of Education, which trains future educators and leaders in how to put the environment at the centre of learning as we tackle the climate crisis.

Activities included pond dipping for aquatic life, building shelters, bioblitz (a way of finding out what wildlife is housed on plants and trees), planting shoots to feed humans and pollinators, storytelling, sensory walks, making natural paints and pigments, photo safaris, map-making and much more.

Inclusivity is embedded in the University’s approach to outdoor education, aiming to ensure that everyone, from all walks of life, is empowered to learn about and protect our natural environment. The event had support from specialists in inclusive education to make sure all pupils got the most out of their day, including disabled children and those with Special Educational Needs.

Programme leader Lewis Stockwell explains why it is so important to open up opportunities to everyone: “We all know that action needs to be taken to protect the planet from more harm, and a vital part of that will be educating people from a young age about how to really understand and value our natural world. But experiences of nature vary hugely amongst young people – too often, spending time in nature is seen as the preserve of the privileged, for those who can afford to travel, take holidays, and get involved in expensive outdoor activities with high-priced kit.

“Actually, the environment isn’t a holiday destination or adventure playground for a few people to enjoy – it can be found on every street corner, in cities just as much as rural areas. It is everyone’s to appreciate, and everyone’s responsibility to look after.

“That’s why our approach to outdoor education is as inclusive as possible, to help everyone to re-prioritise the environment as we tackle this climate emergency. That’s why we do what we do, and it’s what makes us unique. And that is why it’s so important to offer opportunities like our outdoor education centre for free to schools in the region”.

To find out more about Outdoor Environmental Education at Herts, visit the University’s website.


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