23 July 2010


Froglife is calling for teachers to give their views and solutions to the obstacles that hold schools back from undertaking activities with their pupils outside of the classroom.

A new online questionnaire, launched today, is seeking teachers’ views on a number of ‘outdoor learning’ elements, particularly relating to amphibians and reptiles. The findings from this questionnaire will help shape new Froglife projects that can deliver for wildlife conservation, and that help teachers deliver sessions to their pupils that are memorable and thought-provoking.

“Frogs and newts are particularly memorable to children, and simple activities like pond-dipping have the potential to sow the seeds of inspiration that can lead to a life in wildlife conservation, whilst helping teachers deliver important curriculum concepts.” said Froglife's Jules Howard. “Our concern is that these opportunities and activities for outdoor learning are being sidelined in some schools – we’re asking teachers to provide us with their findings on the ground so we can produce projects that help tackle these concerns.”

The teacher’s questionnaire can be found here, and is open to teachers –primary or secondary- across the country.

Froglife joins a number of wildlife organisations in supporting the government’s ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ initiative, which was launched in 2006. Although great steps have been made, and some influential organisations have done a good job of spear-heading the campaign, it’s unclear how deep the new government’s support for this campaign goes and whether the battle, after four years, is being won.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a part time primary school teacher and also a Field teacher for an environmental organisation. Everyone likes pond dipping and where I am its popular and brilliant but....coach costs are high so outdoor trips are limited for many schools. The last 2 schools I worked in had Ecology areas in their grounds which werent used due to Health And Safety Concerns; one had 2 fox dens in so there was loads of mess....daily , despite a great caretaker there'd be ripped binbags spilling all sorts of unsavoury mess like dirty nappies and jagged things...and lotsa foxpoo which rather put you off minibeast hunts in the vegetation with small children. I did try to use the area, being into environmental ed and of a stronger stomach than most of my colleagues; it meant an hour or two before school of cleaning up. I had various plans , with the caretaker, to get rid of the foxes but theres a limit to whats possible and even if they d been relocated , I was told that they'd quickly be replaced by others in the area. There were loads of urban foxes around. We enjoyed watching the cubs every spring and Id had to move a small curious one once which had stunned itself on the glass entrance doors.
The second school had a pond but the area was fenced and gated as a pond was felt to be A Hazard to young children (ho hum) and no one had time (few teachers had time for anything beyond keeping their heads above water...it was ridiculous..) or the inclination to volunteer to weed the nettles which were deemed another hazard. ...rather than a Learning Experience. I was there 2 or 3 years and I dont think anyone used the area in that time.
I bet theres lots of schools with allocated Wildlife/Ecology/Environmental areas which arent used by the pupils.
I think some adults worry unduly about safety....'Outdoors' is regarded by those who are indoor types as dirty and dangerous and inhabited by things that sting and bite. If pupils have to cover open wounds and receive Weills disease warnings before pond dipping I reckon this reinforces the fears of those with no sense of proportion.
But its fun and exciting and i have yet to meet a child who didnt enjoy it.