Project Stories

Growing among trees

More engaged learning increased school attendance and improved behaviours. Taking teaching outside the classroom really can do it all.

“When children are learning outdoors, it’s so engaging for them. It gives them a sense of belonging in the natural world. This is for everybody. Nature promotes equality.” – Primary school teacher.

Based on the principles that access to nature can boost mental health and wellbeing, a foundation for learning, theGrowing Among Trees project, funded by the Department of Education and Defra, set the ball rolling for what has become our Wild Teaching programme.

A unique way to connect marginalised groups.

Focussed on reaching children living in areas of deprivation to benefit their wellbeing and mental health, we explored how to embed low-cost, high-impact outdoor learning into daily teaching, linked with the science curriculum and other subjects, including maths and literacy.

Led by tree planting charity Trees for Cities, we worked collaboratively with three Reading-based schools: Ranikhet Academy, Palmer Academy and Whitley Park Infants and Junior School. We placed the teachers’ and children’s needs and challenges at the heart of our design process. And found that empowering teachers to use their school grounds led them further afield to discover walkable woodlands only a few minutes from their classrooms.

A legacy for outdoor teaching

Through the insights we gathered, we’ve developed the Wild Teaching Pedagogy and Toolkit <link> to enable schools across the UK to benefit from our learning. The toolkit explores the benefits of nature-based education, how to overcome barriers and Key Stage 1 session plans.

The project was independently evaluated by Dr William Birds’ company, Intelligent Health Ltd, to explore which interventions work best in specific communities and geographic areas and what it takes to transform an urban school into a setting that harnesses nature’s potential to enrich education and wellbeing.