Can a school trip change children’s attitudes to nature? asks Lorna Fox, WWT’s National Learning Adviser in a recent COtC blog.

The post explores the results of research which tracked 500 pupils aged 8-9 who went to visit a WWT wetland centre for a pond dipping session.  Lorna’s post begins:

“What was your best day of the school year when you were a kid?  Was it sports day or the school play or, like me, was it the school trip?  I wonder what memories pop into your mind when you think back to school trips.  Probably for some, it’s simply the packed lunch, or maybe it’s holding hands walking in a crocodile.  I hope that some, like me, remember going ‘WOW’ at some piece of art, or an experiment or an animal as it was transformed from weird to wonderful in front of your eyes, because seeing it right in front of you, it suddenly made sense.  I was lucky. I was at a school that took us to amazing places where people took care to help us learn. Not everyone gets that experience. Not all schools, let alone teachers, have the resources and confidence to take pupils on a trip. …”

It ends with this:

“We are always looking for ways to improve the experience for schools. Going through this really deep evaluation with such a large sample of pupils has been really useful for WWT.  The results have strengthened the case for making changes we had planned already. And it has given us some new ideas for ways to work better.  We’re creating an online learning zone that anyone can access via our website. This idea was prompted by the kids themselves and it will help teachers and parents help them to prepare and follow up on a visit to WWT, which we know really cements their learning.  Weird and wonderful facts and discoveries stick in kids’ minds, so we’re maximising the wow factor. Did you know that water boatmen breathe through bubbles on their bottoms??  And connected to that, we’re putting a greater emphasis on the kids having a wild experience. Building dens, exploring off the beaten track, lighting campfires and telling stories all immerse the kids in their surroundings and create strong memories. And because they’re new experiences for most kids, they build their confidence and develop life skills such as managing risk and making decisions.  There are lots more developments in the pipeline too.  It’s an exciting time for WWT and for outdoor learning generally. We are now making the results public and sharing them with other organisations that run educational visits.”

There are also links to the report.