Anna Ridgewell, from the University of Sussex, won the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2023 Best ePoster Prize and has now contributed a post to its Blog: Growing up green: What value is placed on accessing outdoor environments across different childcare and educational settings?

This is how it begins:

“It is well known that spending time in nature is beneficial for children (Chawla, 2015). However, in Britain, children now spend less time outside than previous generations (Moss, 2012), which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic (Natural England, 2021). Furthermore, inequalities in nature access disproportionately affects those from poorer backgrounds and ethnic minority populations, with many losing out due to a lack of quality local provision or societal barriers (Holland, 2021). Children may now, therefore, be particularly dependent on their access to nature being facilitated by educational and childcare settings, but these opportunities may be distributed inequitably.

My doctoral study investigates how children aged three to seven are enabled to access nature within early and primary educational contexts. Drawing on a phenomenological tradition, the work uses a social constructionist approach to explore the value placed on nature and any potential constraints or freedoms experienced by children in state and privately funded schools and nurseries. My study places children’s voices at the heart of the research, using key elements of the creative methodology Photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1997). During fieldwork, child participants took photographs of outside spaces at their schools and nurseries, using printouts of the images to facilitate discussion on the meanings that those spaces held for them. Transcriptions of talk during the photography exercise and subsequent discussions were analysed using a Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2022), to develop three major themes. …”


Anna Ridgewell [ @AnnaRidgewell ] is a Research Fellow and a Doctoral Researcher, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) via the SeNSS Network. Anna’s PhD project investigates the opportunities that children aged 3-7 from different socioeconomic backgrounds have to access the outdoors during their day at nursery or primary school and how this impacts their sense of nature connection and pro-environmentalism. 

Click here for more BERA blogs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment