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First young people take part in the Department for Education’s new National Education Nature Park scheme

The National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards initiatives are run by a partnership led by the Natural History Museum working with the Royal Horticultural Society, in collaboration with Esri UK and the Department for Education

·       Today, on Outdoor Classroom Day, young people involved in a pilot scheme for the National Education Nature Park took part in an activity day to test activities they will undertake in their places of education to help boost biodiversity across England

·       Representatives from the Department for Education and Chair of Trustees of the Natural History Museum, Sir Patrick Vallance, visited the activity day at RHS Bridgewater

Today, 18 May, young people from pathfinder education settings have been testing activities for the National Education Nature Park, a new Department for Education scheme led by the Natural History Museum that will create a network of outdoor spaces in schools, nurseries and colleges across England, managed by young people and empowering them to make a positive difference to both their and nature’s future.

Baroness Barran MBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education (DfE), visited the activity day at RHS Garden Bridgewater as the DfE announced £15m in funding for settings in the most deprived and nature depleted areas to engage with the programme. Eligible settings will be invited to apply over the coming months.

The pioneering initiative – run by a partnership led by the Natural History Museum with the Royal Horticultural Society, other partners, and working with Esri UK and the DfE - will give young people across England the opportunity to lead the way in mapping, monitoring and enhancing their learning sites for nature. Natural History Museum research has established the UK is currently one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. The National Education Nature Park aims to empower young people to take action on biodiversity loss through interventions such as creating pollinator-friendly habitats where biodiversity can thrive, to developing planting schemes that support climate resilience, all while enhancing their wellbeing through an increased connection to nature and equipping them with essential green and digital skills for their futures.

40 education settings in pilot regions of the North West and West Midlands are currently testing and helping develop the National Education Nature Park scheme, which will open to settings across England later in the year. Young people from education settings involved in the pilot scheme have been taking part in innovative engagement activities at RHS Garden Bridgewater that will develop their connection and understanding of nature on their learning sites. Their contributions within this pilot phase will shape the national programme. Activities have included:

·       Interpreting interactions and relationships within the natural world through exploring nature in the RHS garden

·       Recording what they have found living and growing in the garden – these biodiversity data help investigations into how healthy and diverse a place is

·       Producing creative responses as a way of noticing and getting closer to nature, such as exploring texture through bark rubbing and describing soundscapes through creative writing

·       Esri UK created free mapping apps for the event, enabling young people to record their experiences by plotting what they saw, heard and smelt, along with the emotions they felt at different locations. The digital mapping software also allows them to share and explore the results on a dashboard to understand how different environments cause different reactions and start developing the mapping skills they will use to map and study their own learning sites.

Alongside the National Education Nature Park, the Climate Action Awards 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 organisations achieving systemic change, to strengthen the education system to give young people the skills they need for the future.

As part of the programme, the Natural History Museum will be providing support and guidance on what makes a great evidence-informed climate change and biodiversity curriculum for all ages, developed with experts and practitioners from the Climate Adapted Pathways for Education Alliance. This guidance will link to a range of free resources, lesson plans and schemes of work for each key stage and across different curriculum subjects, with content and pedagogy quality assured by the Royal Meteorological Society and partners.

Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Department for Education and our partners to make the National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards start to become a reality. In the face of the planetary emergency and Museum research showing that the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, having our scientists sharing their world-leading biodiversity expertise with the scientists of tomorrow gives me so much hope, both for the future of biodiversity in this country and for the futures of the young people taking part”.

Clare Matterson CBE, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “From creating pollinator-friendly habitats, digging ponds, identifying wildlife or planning planting schemes, nurseries, schools and colleges will be able to play a driving role in mapping, monitoring and enhancing biodiversity on their doorstep. Children and young people will have a chance to create and grow a garden that works for wildlife, to learn new skills and understand impacts of climate change - all of which offers a gateway to a lifelong interest in nature, biodiversity and sustainability”.

All education settings in England will be able to sign up to become part of the National Education Nature Park and work towards the Climate Action Awards via a new online platform, set to launch in the Autumn term. They will also be able to access the free resources and track biodiversity gains in their areas.

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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 partnership will be working with Esri UK to provide free geospatial mapping tools so children and young people can track biodiversity gains in their area.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most- visited indoor attraction in the UK. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens accessed by researchers from all over the world both in person and via over 50 billion digital data downloads to date. The Museum’s 350 scientists are finding solutions to the planetary emergency from biodiversity loss through to the sustainable extraction of natural resources.

The Museum uses its global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome millions of visitors through our doors each year, our website has had 17 million visits in the last year and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 20 million people in the last 10 years.

Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) was founded in 1804 and is the UK’s largest gardening charity.

The RHS vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place via its inspirational gardens and shows, science research and advisory, extensive library collections and far-reaching education and community programmes. With over 600,000 members the RHS also shares its horticultural knowledge and expertise with millions of people every year through its website and publications.

We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

For more information visit
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

About Esri UK

Esri UK is a GIS (Geographic Information System) software company, which develops a range of geospatial solutions for digital mapping and spatial analysis. Founded in 1969, Esri is the global market leader in GIS software and today has 4,000 staff in 73 countries. Esri UK has over 450 employees with offices in Aylesbury, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Belfast. Customers include the Department for Education, Environment Agency, Met Office, National Trust and RSPB. Esri’s software is also used by over 3,500 schools across the UK, helping students learn new geospatial skills.

For more information please visit:

Outdoor Classroom Day

Outdoor Classroom Day is run by Learning Through Landscapes who are a project partner on the National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Awards. Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement to make time outdoors part of every child’s day. On two days of action each year, teachers take children outdoors to play and learn. All year round, the Outdoor Classroom Day community campaigns for more time outdoors every day.