Natural environment

The natural environment provides a stimulating context for learning right across the curriculum. There are organisations dedicated to every aspect ranging from the total landscape, through natural and human communities to the tiniest minibeast. Those listed here have made particular efforts to engage young people by providing specially tailored activities and resources.

Countryside Access

The official website for the Countryside Code and maps of Open Access land in England, this site contains educational resources for teachers and group leaders and lists of local walks. It has links to the websites of Scottish Natural Heritage and Countryside Council for Wales.

The Field Studies Council

An environmental, education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural world. It publishes extensive resources and runs day and residential fieldwork activities and courses for student and qualified teachers and pupils, unaccompanied young people and families at 17 field studies centres across the UK. The ‘Campaigns and Projects’ pages have summaries and links to research reports on outdoor learning and fieldwork. www.fiel

Forest Education Initiative

This aims to increase the appreciation and understanding of trees and woodland among young people, particularly those aged 5 to 11. Teachers and group leaders will find particularly useful the freely downloadable learning materials, information on professional training opportunities and list of local groups throughout the country.

National Parks

The ‘learning about’ section of the National Parks website has links to education services and to 15 national parks in England, Scotland and Wales.

Natural England

This government agency works for people, places and nature, to enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas; promote access, recreation and public well-being; and contribute to the way natural resources are managed so that they can be enjoyed now and in the future. The website has a section for researchers, students and teachers, and many downloadable lesson plans, publications and resources.

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The RSPB provides a wide range of resources including the Living Classrooms scheme for school visits to reserves, Wildlife Action and Climate Action awards, a kids’ website with games and activities and on-line teaching materials with clear curriculum links to geography, literacy, numeracy and science.

Scout Notebook

A collection of training materials collected from Scout Leaders throughout the country, available for free download to anyone training young people. It includes guidance on outdoor cooking, camp-fires, first aid and survival techniques, as well as suggestions for games and songs.

The Wildlife Trusts

There are 47 local (mostly county-based) wildlife trusts, dedicated to conserving the UK’s habitats and species by standing up for wildlife, inspiring people about the natural world and fostering sustainable living. They manage over 2000 nature reserves and run Wildlife Watch, an environmental action club for kids. Their 2006 publication Natural Inspiration – Learning Outside the Classroom showcases their work with schools.