All schools, nurseries and colleges in England can join the National Education Nature Park, including independent schools. The programme and all associated resources are applicable for all schools and settings, regardless of outdoor or green space on their site.
Meets curriculum goals
The programme will provide curriculum-linked resources, based on the best evidence for successful climate pedagogy, that can be used flexibly across a range of subject areas.
Upskills and builds educator confidence
Activities for teachers and students will progressively build green, communication and digital skills, while support and guidance will build educator confidence in delivering climate and nature content.
Accelerates nature recovery
Every small improvement made on a learning site contributes to nature recovery and climate resilience across the country when combined across the vast size of the National Education Nature Park.
Access to green space and outdoor learning has been shown to have overwhelmingly positive impacts on the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. The programme aims to help build agency among learners so they can channel climate anxiety into tackling the planetary emergency.
Contributes to scientific research
School grounds are the most under-recorded urban habitat type in England, meaning we know less about what lives and grows there than in other types of habitat in England. Mapping your site is what we call ‘Community Science’ - real scientific studies that take place in communities around the country. As well as enabling students to explore and understand their outside space better, the activities mean they'll be part of a research team with the Natural History Museum, studying the best ways to support nature recovery across England.
Supports Climate Action Plans
By 2025, all education settings should have nominated a sustainability lead and put in place a Climate Action Plan. This programme will help develop an approach to nature on site that can satisfy the biodiversity elements of Climate Action Plans. The DfE has published guidance which sets out practical information about climate action planning and sustainability leadership, including links to best practice so that every setting can begin, or continue, their journey now. From December 2023 the Department will begin to roll out a programme of further support for the education sector.
Through participating in the National Education Nature Park, children and young people will develop a meaningful connection to nature and an understanding of our role to act on the biodiversity and climate crises. Engaging in the programme will develop key skills around communication, decision making and creative thinking, as well as scientific skills in biology, natural history and nature identification and recording, and digital skills including data analysis and data visualisation.
Taking part in the National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards is completely free. This includes all the educational resources and support that are available to use. Making enhancements to your site to boost nature may cost money, but we’ll be focusing on low-cost options and will provide guidance as to how you may fund these.
Taking part is optional. We know that children and young people want to take positive action for the environment and learn green skills, and the programme has been piloted in education settings to ensure that it is a useful resource that fits into the school/nursery/college day, alongside priorities for the education setting. Participation will help in completing the biodiversity element of the Department for Education’s initiative for Climate Action Plans in all education settings (click here for more information).
- Children and young people take the first step in their Nature Park journey by getting to know their outdoor space by mapping habitats, surveying what is living and growing there, and understanding how it is used by themselves and their peers
- Using creative thinking and collaboration skills, together with the latest scientific evidence provided by the programme, children and young people put together a plan to improve their grounds for nature. They put these plans into action through improvements such as making a rain garden, planting pollinator-friendly plants, installing bird boxes and more
- After changes have been made, children and young people continue to monitor what is living and growing on their learning site. Not only will they see the difference they’ve made for nature on their own learning site, but an online map will visualise the collective difference the National Education Nature Park is making for nature across the country
Some of the survey and mapping tools are designed for use on smartphones or tablets. However, education settings can take part in the National Education Nature Park without access to phones and tablets by adding their observations on a computer in the classroom, instead of outdoors using a device. There are offline versions of all the activities to ensure everyone can take part fully in the National Education Nature Park.
A good way of ensuring your school can use the digital tools available as part of the Nature Park is to use the Department for Education's digital and technology standards for schools and colleges. Meeting the standards can help you make more informed decisions about technology leading to safer, more cost-effective practices and new learning opportunities for students. The DfE Digital and Technical standards can be found here.
If you are experiencing technical issues such as latency or low bandwidth while using resources or specific technology, please refer to the DfE connectivity related standards that include broadband, network switches, network cabling and wireless networks.
As part of the Nature Park programme, educators and young people will work together to collect information on which habitats are found on their site, how different spaces are used and which animals, plants and fungi are living there. The habitat mapping will be available from November 2023, and teacher guidance and activities for young people will provide support through this process. Easy-to-use tools will help educators create an online map of the site, which can be viewed and analysed together with young people, when planning next steps in boosting nature.
Mapping your site is what we call ‘Community Science’ - real scientific studies that take place in communities around the country. As well as enabling you to explore and understand your site better, taking part in the mapping activities also means you’re part of a research team with the Natural History Museum, studying the best ways to support nature recovery across England.
To make the information you gather as useful as possible for nature recovery and science research, you’ll be asked to give it an ‘open license’ when you register (also called a Creative Commons CC0 license). This means your observations are as valuable as possible and can be shared and used by anyone interested in nature – nationally and internationally. This only applies to your environmental data – your personal data will not be shared beyond the project and only for the uses you’ve consented to under Data Protection Regulations.
The programme has been designed so all settings can take part regardless of the size of outdoor areas or having any green space – so you don't need any access to any large or green spaces to participate. In fact, creating green areas and sections in previously ‘grey’ spaces such as concrete areas brings the greatest benefits for both nature and young people, so settings with grey spaces have the most potential to make a difference!
The suggested changes that can be planned and actioned by young people on their learning sites (called ‘interventions’ throughout the programme) have been designed for spaces regardless of their size, so no matter what your starting point, all schools, nurseries and colleges can take part and make a difference for nature.
The partnership is delivering a comprehensive, curriculum-based set of free nature and climate education resources, lesson plans, and schemes of work from Early Years Foundation Stage, through Key Stages 1-5 and Further Education. This will be a growing library of resources, added to over the coming months and years of the programme. These will be developed in collaboration with educators and young people, so look out for opportunities to contribute.
We will be developing a registration for non-teacher users to access the learning resources over the coming months. Sign up to receive our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news and when this will be available.
The Department of Education has selected 1205 early years, primary, secondary, SEND schools and other educational settings around England who will be eligible for a grant to support their participation. Eligible schools will be contacted by the RHS with details on how to apply.