National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards
The Natural History Museum is leading a partnership to establish the new National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards, empowering young people to make a positive difference to both their and nature’s future.
Working with the Department for Education (DfE), the programme aims to make sure every young person in England has opportunities to develop a meaningful connection to nature, develop green skills for their future and contribute to nature recovery.
Together with our partners, the Royal Horticultural Society and the Royal Society, we are giving children and young people the opportunity to transform their learning sites for nature and become part of a network of nurseries, schools and colleges that form the National Education Nature Park.
The accompanying Climate Action Awards, led by the Royal Society, will help children and young people develop skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability, and celebrate their climate action efforts.
Responding to the urgency of the planetary emergency and the DfE's Sustainability Strategy, this is once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way we teach climate education and support young people to act and increase biodiversity across England.
How to get involved
All schools, nurseries and colleges in England can join the National Education Nature Park from 4 October. The Climate Action Awards will launch in January 2024.
Celebrate the launch on 4 October by taking part in our Hidden Nature Challenge
From discovering an unexpected plant to finding patterns in nature, get involved in our Hidden Nature Challenge to celebrate the launch of the National Education Nature Park. On 4 October, we want as many schools, nurseries and colleges as possible to take part in revealing the nature that’s all around us, that we might not always see.
Introduction to the National Education Nature Park
What are the Climate Action Awards?
Alongside the National Education Nature Park, we are also designing a Climate Action Awards scheme that will recognise and celebrate places of education that support their students in developing green skills, championing nature and working towards a sustainable future.
The Awards are to recognise education settings achieving systemic change, by strengthening the school system to give young people the skills they need for the future.
There will be four levels within the Climate Action Awards that recognise progression.
How did pathfinders pilot the programme?
We worked with 40 pilot education settings across early years, primary, secondary, SEND and Further Education in the Greater Manchester and West Midlands areas, testing innovative engagement activities to inform the wider programme.
Our first Pathfinder activity was to have our students explore our academy grounds and identify the variety of different micro-environments that were present.
This opened the students' eyes to just how many different kinds of environments there are, from purposefully built pond areas, to grass verges and even simple brick walls. Each microenvironment had different species living in them and showed that all environments have their value.
Teachers from Co-op Academy, Manchester
These activities include nature photography and mapping the sounds they hear around them so pupils can practice noticing and getting closer to nature, and investigating the ways different plants can be used to solve pressing local environmental issues like flooding or habitat loss.
Esri UK have created a short reflection on student findings from Pathfinder testing days so far.
We are looking forward to seeing how children feel about being part of improvements in their local community and how they can work together to improve the school grounds.
We see it as a way to encourage engagement in a range of different activities and improve the mental wellbeing of the students.
Key Stage 1 teacher from a Pathfinder school in the West Midlands
Partners for nature
This partnership is led by the Natural History Museum with the Royal Horticultural Society, supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Manchester Metropolitan University, Learning Through Landscapes, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the National Biodiversity Network Trust.
Collectively we are the UK’s leading institutions within our fields, with world class expertise and brand recognition across schools and Higher Education, science research, and public engagement with nature.
- The Natural History Museum’s world-leading scientists are designing and advising on biodiversity gain and measurement, including designing survey packages and guides to help schools monitor and model biodiversity, and the free climate education resources.
As lead partners, the Museum oversees the overall project management, including developing a new online platform for the programme. The Museum is supported by the Royal Geographical Society, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the National Biodiversity Network Trust.
- The Royal Horticultural Society is leading on the National Education Nature Park pilot programme and development of the delivery model, including the design, development and administration of the activity in education settings.
The RHS will be providing regional support of Nature Park delivery. The RHS is supported by Learning Through Landscapes and Manchester Metropolitan University.
- The project is funded by the Department for Education.
We are also looking to work in partnership with the environment and education sector, universities, and scientists to pool our expertise and resources to provide the support that educators and students want.
Sustainability is at the core of everything we do at Manchester Metropolitan University and we are delighted to be working in partnership on the National Education Nature Park to create opportunities for young people to develop an understanding of nature and climate change and, crucially, to translate this knowledge into positive action and solutions.
Manchester Metropolitan University