Funding boost to help children get outside and experience nature first hand

Thanks to a funding boost of £50,000 from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, children across Leicester will be able to continue enjoying the great outdoors with the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. Following the success of last year’s Wild Forest School project, the backing that the Trust has received means that it will be able to run a number of sessions for primary school children.

The Wild Forest School initiative, that was set up by the Trust in 2015, is designed to support schools and families in Leicester and give children the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, whilst discovering nature through a range of activities. This year, Marriott Primary School, Merrydale Junior School, St Patricks Catholic Primary School and Braunstone Community Primary School are just four schools that will benefit from the Wild Forest School sessions.

For pre-school children, the Trust will continue running three Wild Tots groups around Leicester, as well as a new group in partnership with Leicester City Council at Thurnby Lodge Children, Young People and Family Centre. Activities at these sessions include hunting for minibeasts, making things out of natural materials, identifying trees and other wildlife, taking part in treasure hunts, listening to stories and enjoying wildlife-themed games.

In addition to both the Forest School sessions and Wild Tots groups, the funding will be used to build an all-weather garden in one of Leicester city’s primary schools and produce a teacher’s pack designed to support and encourage teachers to take their lessons outdoors.  

Simon Bentley, director of the Leicester and Rutland Wildlife Trust said: “Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can continue providing children from Leicester with the chance to connect with nature and give them the freedom to learn about the different types of wildlife that can be found in the city. Children today are spending half as much time outside than they were a generation ago, so it’s great to be able to support primary school and pre-school children with the opportunity to spend time with nature through a number of different activities.”

To find out more about Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School project and the opportunities available, visit www.wildforestschool.org.uk.

Why Leicestershire children are being urged to play outside this winter

Temperatures are dropping and the evenings are getting darker but families across Leicestershire are being encouraged to get their children to play outdoors this winter to improve physical and mental health.

Over the last year, 96 children from primary schools across Leicester have been taking part in the Wild Forest School project run by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and both teachers and parents have reported seeing a vast improvement in the children’s mental wellbeing and self-esteem.

Over the last year, 96 children from primary schools across Leicester have been taking part in the Wild Forest School project run by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and both teachers and parents have reported seeing a vast improvement in the children’s mental wellbeing and self-esteem.

Grainne Purkiss, Teaching and Learning Coach at Braunstone Community Primary School says: “We have all enjoyed Forest School and the difference it has made to the children involved. It has been a tremendous opportunity to see the "quiet" changes that take place within the selected children over the last few weeks. When they came back to school with their strung bows and alder necklaces, I nearly cried.”

In a new video released by the Trust today, children have explained, in their own words, how spending time outside has improved their confidence.

Martha Rose, Educational Officer at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust says: “The feedback from the Wild Forest School sessions is the latest in an increasing body of evidence that shows how spending just five minutes outside can improve children’s mental development. However, studies show that colder weather is one of the biggest barriers to outdoor learning, which is why we’re giving families some inspiration for outdoor activities over the winter months.”

Top Tips:

1. Stargazing - Stargazing can be done from the comfort of your back garden and it’s a great way to get your kids outdoors and learning. If you’re not already a budding astronomer, there are plenty of family guides out there that will talk you through the constellations you can spot with the kids and how to spot the stars from the planets.

2. Leaf collecting – Autumn and winter produce a stunning array of natural colours, so it’s a great time to get arty with the natural resources on your doorstep, for example by making a leaf lantern or leaf suncatcher.

3. Stick people – Create a whole family of stick people to play with by binding together (using a pipe cleaner or masking tape) two shapes of stick: a straight one and one with a fork (or "Y" shape at the end) for the legs.

4. Bird feeders – As food becomes more scarce, birds need a little helping hand. Make your own feeder by covering a pine cone with a base of either melted suet/lard or UNsalted peanut butter mixed with seed and raisins.

5. Seed and nut hunt – Search for and identify the different seeds and nuts you can find either on the ground or hanging in the trees in your local park. If they have been nibbled, find out what animal made the marks.

To download the video, please visit: www.wildforestschool.org.uk

For more information on these outdoor activities, please visit: www.wildforestschool.org.uk/resources and www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/activity-sheets

Top tips for getting your children playing outside this summer

Parents in Leicestershire are being encouraged to get their children playing outdoors this summer, thanks to top tips and a series of wild summer play sessions run by the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust. The sessions, which run throughout August, are funded by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Government research shows that only 10% of children in the UK are accessing outdoor learning and a staggering 74% of children are spending less than an hour outside each day, despite warnings from experts that it’s essential for healthy growth and development.[1]

Martha Rose, Educational Officer at Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust says: ‘Active play is a vital, natural way for youngsters to learn about the world around them, but sometimes families need inspiration for fun outdoor activities that are suitable for the whole family. That’s why we’re running Wild Play sessions throughout the holiday, to encourage families to explore local wildlife whilst also giving them the opportunity to learn new arts and craft skills using the natural materials around them. We’ve also issued some top tips for encouraging outdoor play.”

Top Tips:

1. Make a natural crown – with some card and double sided tape or glue, create a sticky band and then collect beautiful leaves and flowers to stick on it

2. Create a mud café or kitchen using some old pans or plastic crockery

3. Paddle in a stream (e.g. at Aylestone Meadows or Knighton Park) and make a mini raft to float in it

4. Look for colours in nature – collect some free colour charts from a DIY store and see how many natural objects you can find to match the colours

5. Start a nature table – whilst in your garden or local park, look for wild treasures such as feathers and empty snail shells and display them at home

For more top tips, visit: www.wildforestschool.org.uk/resources and www.wildlifewatch.org.uk/activity-sheets

The Wild Play sessions are part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School project which provides fun, engaging opportunities for children in Leicester to experience the natural world and discover nature through a range of wild activities. Wild Play sessions will be held at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arboretum and at Abbey Park. Activities on offer include mud painting, leaf art, wooden jewellery making and creating a gnome of fairy home.

Families can take part in the Wild Play sessions from 2nd - 18th August. Sessions at Attenborough Arboretum need to be booked in advance and cost £3.50 per child per session. Drop in activities at Abbey Park are free. To secure a space or find out more, please visit www.wildforestschool.org.uk/events

[1] Natural England, Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment pilot study: visits to the natural environment by children’.

 

Wildlife Trust launches new group for nature loving tots

Even more pre-school children in Leicester are getting in touch with their wild side as Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust opens up another of its popular Wild Tots groups.

The club for under-5’s has been set up as part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School Project, which received significant funding earlier this year thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. After a successful launch last year, the Trust now provides five different Wild Tots group sessions across Leicestershire. The latest opened at the University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arboretum in Knighton where the waiting list had grown substantially for the existing group held there.

Children get to take part in a range of Forest School inspired outdoor activities, from wildlife-themed games and minibeast hunting, to treasure trails and storytelling. Sessions go ahead as planned come rain or shine, with children encouraged to have fun outdoors whatever the weather.

Martha Rose, education officer at Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, commented: “It’s great to see how popular our Wild Tots sessions have become. The children all love getting outside, having fun exploring the world around them and learning about the joys of nature. Young people today often have limited opportunities to play outdoors, particularly those in urban areas, so we’re incredibly grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making these sessions possible.”

As part of its Wild Forest School Project, this year Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is working with eight different primary schools, as well as home-educated and nursery groups across Leicester to provide fun and imaginative sessions to promote outdoor learning. The Trust is also running a number of Wild Play sessions during the school holidays for youngsters and their families to attend.

All sessions are coordinated by qualified Forest School leaders and activities are carefully designed to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation, while building communication skills and confidence. To secure a space or find out more about Wild Tots or the Wild Forest School Project, please visit www.wildforestschool.org.uk or email Martha Rose via mrose@lrwt.org.uk.

Get in touch with your wild side at family event

Families across Leicester are being invited to go wild for the day at an event filled with nature and bush craft inspired activities organised by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

The Wild Sunday family event will take place on 22nd May from 11am to 4pm at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden in Oadby. A range of exciting activities will be available, including wooden jewellery and key ring making, fire lighting, natural painting, story telling and a tree trail with prizes to win. Promising to provide fun for all the family, the event is open to everyone and will go ahead come rain or shine.

The family day has been arranged as part of the Wild Forest School project, which is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Similar Wild Play events will also be taking place during the half term holiday. For further details or to find out more about the project, visit www.wildforestschool.org.uk.

As well as joining in the fun, families can also be inspired for ‘30 Days Wild’, an initiative from the Wildlife Trusts to get people outside and enjoying nature. A free 30 Days Wild activity pack, including a wallchart, stickers and wild flower seeds, will be available at the event.

The Trust’s month-long nature challenge was highly successful last June with more than 18,500 people taking part. Participants were encouraged to do something ‘wild’ every day for a month and commit Random Acts of Wildness to help connect with, experience and take action for nature.

Martha Rose, Wild Forest School project co-ordinator, commented: “Thanks to the continued support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can provide more opportunities like these for the children in our urban areas to experience nature. We’re delighted to be holding this event at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, it’s the perfect setting to learn about and enjoy wildlife. Through these initiatives we hope to demonstrate that it’s actually really easy to enjoy nature and provide helpful tips and ideas for parents to organise their own outdoor activities.”

This year, the Wildlife Trusts across the country are asking people to do something wild every day from 1 – 30 June. This could be simply smelling a wildflower, listening to a birdsong, exploring a local park, or letting an area of the garden grow wild. The challenge is free to take part in and a list of 101 fun and intriguing ideas are online for inspiration. To sign up and register for a pack, visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild and don’t forget to share pictures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #30DaysWild.

Win wildlife friendly features for your school

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust is offering primary schools across Leicester the chance to win a prize worth £500 to help attract wildlife to their outdoor spaces.

As part of its Wild Forest School project, funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the Trust is running an online survey to find out how teaching staff can be better supported to make the most of their school’s outdoor spaces.

The short questionnaire can be found at www.wildforestschool.org.uk/survey and entries should be made by Friday 22nd April. On completion of the survey, the school will be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win one of three prizes worth £500, which can be used to help develop or improve a wildlife area in the school’s grounds.

Martha Rose, Wild Forest School project co-ordinator, commented: “We hope that the results of the survey will help us to establish how outside spaces are being used for learning, what schools want from these spaces, and what barriers are preventing teaching there. From this data we’ll then be able to identify how we can best support our local schools to provide opportunities to get more children enjoying the outdoors.”

The prize money can be spent in a variety of ways that will best suit the winning schools. Raised beds and minibeast hotels could be installed in schools that currently have limited access to wildlife. Alternatively, maintenance and teacher training could be provided for schools with an existing wild area in their grounds. The funding will cover both labour and material costs and the work will be carried out by the Trust’s expert team of Grow Wild gardeners.

The survey is just one of the many initiatives being carried out by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust this year. The Wild Forest School Project team will be running a number of sessions at primary schools across Leicester, as well as for pre-school and home-educated children. The team will also be holding Wild Play sessions for children and their families during school holidays.

Simon Bentley, director of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, said: “Thanks to the continued support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can provide more opportunities for the children and young people in our urban areas to enjoy nature. This survey is really important, as the responses will reveal how we can support schools to improve their outdoor learning and get children outside on a more regular basis.”

Forest School flourishes thanks to funding boost

Children in Leicester can continue to enjoy the great outdoors with Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, thanks to a funding boost from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Following the Wild Forest School project’s success last year, the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has received the backing required to continue its good work across the city. The initiative allows youngsters to explore outdoor spaces and take part in a range of fun activities designed to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation. From fire-lighting to cooking, woodwork to bushcraft and natural art, children can learn about the natural world in a safe environment.

This year, plans are in place for the creation of a further ‘Wild Tots’ group, which will run weekly imaginative sessions for pre-school children. The team will run a series of Wild Play sessions for children and their families during the school holidays, as well as a larger scale family event in the summer. The Trust will also be conducting a survey to help establish how primary school staff could be better supported to make the most of their school’s outdoor space.

The funding will help the Trust to run Forest School sessions with children at eight Leicester primary schools, as well as its existing sessions for pre-school and home-educated children. The team will also be building more wildlife areas in the grounds of city primary schools to help encourage pupils to spend more time during the week outside having fun and learning new skills.

Simon Bentley, Director of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, commented: “Thanks to the continued support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we will now be able to provide even more opportunities for the children and young people in our urban areas. Children today are spending half as much time outdoors as they were a generation ago, so it’s great to see more children exploring and enjoying nature again. We’re very excited for the year ahead.”

Developed from the Scandinavian model of learning through play outdoors, Forest School sessions give children the freedom to learn and explore nature in their own way and at their own pace. Activities are run by leaders who are trained to watch the children closely, appreciate different learning styles and personalities, and provide the right support for the individuals they care for.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, commented: “It’s in children’s DNA to be fascinated by nature but it can be stifling for a child to consistently hear what they can and can’t do. Children who experience Forest Schools are given more freedom and responsibility to explore their interests and initiate and direct their own learning. This enables them to connect with nature, experience the seasons and see how the Forest School areas change over time.”

Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust turns children’s playground dreams into a reality

Children at Sparkenhoe Community Primary School have added the finishing touches to a new wildlife area in their playground, with help from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s team of Grow Wild gardeners.Sparkenhoe was one of the three schools to win the ‘My Wild Life Adventure Competition’, part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School project, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The competition invited all Leicester city primary schools to submit a design of a nature zone that they would like to have created in their grounds.

The judges were particularly impressed by the pupils’ colourful creativity, which demonstrated clear planning and imagination, and invited the Trust’s team of gardeners to turn their dream into a reality.

One of the judges, Dr Helen O’Brien, council senior nature conservation officer, commented: “The winning entrants really showed how the school and local community were going to get involved in creating their own wildlife area at their school. These areas are so important for our wildlife here in Leicester and help to provide a safe haven for species to survive and thrive.”

When designing their garden, the children at Sparkenhoe were keen to attract wildlife to their school grounds, have somewhere to grow fruit and vegetables, and create an area where they could sit and study their new visitors.

The Grow Wild gardeners started work on the school’s wildlife area over the summer, putting in a new pond, raised beds and bespoke seating. After the holidays, the children added the finishing touches, creating various zones designed to attract different species to the school. They helped plant up the pond, constructed a minibeast hotel and planted bulbs ready for spring.

Zain-Ul Islam, aged seven, was one of the pupils who helped to create the school’s new garden. Zain-Ul said: “We planted things in the pond, we saw insects and used logs to make homes for them to live in. There were so many worms under one log! It was exciting and very interesting to learn about bugs.”

Katherine Burns, sen coordinator at Sparkenhoe commented: “This has been an exciting project for the children. It isn't often that they get to plan ideas for a space that was underused and see those plans come to life. It was fantastic to win the competition and get the children involved in the work. The other classes that have visited have all thought it was wonderful. Year 2 used it as inspiration for their World Peace Day peace gardens. I shall enjoy planting cabbages and beans for the school kitchen with the Year 2 and Year 5 garden clubs.”

The competition was one of the many exciting activities organised by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School Project this year thanks to valuable funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert said: “These gardens wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the public. They will make a real difference to the schools involved and their pupils for years to come.”

Famous naturalist helps Leicester school children get to grips with nature

Children from five Leicester schools met well-known naturalist and TV presenter Nick Baker yesterday, as part of a special event arranged by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Organised to celebrate the Trust’s Wild Forest School project, the afternoon saw more than 60 children enjoy a variety of fun outdoor activities. Nick led the children, who were aged between 4 and 11, on a minibeast hunt, and wowed them with some fascinating facts about the bugs and invertebrates that they found. The children also took part in a range of natural crafts, including leaf collages and making minibeast models out of wood.

The event took place at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Lucas’ Marsh nature reserve in Oadby, where the youngsters were able to explore woods, grassland, hedgerows and marshland, all within a stone’s throw of the city. Pupils from Mayflower Primary, Avenue Primary, Eyres Monsell Primary, Abbey Community Primary and Merrydale Infant School, all attended the outing.

Wild Forest School aims to engage children in urban areas, where chances to explore nature may be limited, and show them how they can enjoy the natural world in their local environment.

Nick commented: “The Wild Forest School project gives local children important opportunities to play and learn away from the classroom. It’s been wonderful to see how excited and enthusiastic they all are about wildlife, and to hear how much they enjoy their Forest School sessions. Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust is doing some brilliant work through this initiative.”

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust has been able to expand its Forest School programme this year, thanks to generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. This additional funding has allowed the Trust to bring its Wild Forest School sessions to 10 local primary schools, as well as preschool and home-educated groups.

Martha Rose, education officer at Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust said: “Without the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery, yesterday’s event and many of our regular activities just wouldn’t be possible. The Wild Forest School programme has been making a real difference for children across Leicester, allowing them to get outdoors and learn about the natural world.”

Local schools win the chance to build nature gardens

Three Leicester schools have won the opportunity to create a wildlife area worth £3,500 in their grounds, in a competition organised by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Belgrave St Peter’s, Sandfield Close and Sparkenhoe Community primary schools were selected by a panel of four judges after submitting their designs for natural spaces. The Trust’s team of Grow Wild gardeners will now help the schools to turn their creations into a reality.

The judges were impressed by pupils’ creativity, with the winning entries demonstrating clear planning and imagination. Children from Belgrave St Peter’s produced a short animation of their dream garden coming to life through play-doh models, Sparkenhoe Community Primary presented a colourful plan of their proposed wildlife area, while Sandfield Close pupils created a miniature living model of what they hoped to build.

11 schools from across the city submitted their ideas to the panel, which comprised Leicester City Council senior nature conservation officer Dr Helen O’Brien, council environmental education co-ordinator Lee Jowett, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust education officer Rachel Ibbotson, and Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert. The judges had a tough time choosing the winners, with strong competition across the board.

Lee Jowett commented: “The quality of the entries was excellent and very imaginative. There has clearly been a lot of hard work put into the designs and the competition was very difficult to pick just 3 winners.”

“The winning entrants really showed how the school and local community were going to get involved in creating their own wildlife area at their local school,” added Helen O’Brien. “These areas are so important for our wildlife here in Leicester and help to provide a safe haven for species to survive and thrive.”

The competition was run as part of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School initiative, which provides youngsters with valuable opportunities to play and learn outside. In addition to the wildlife gardens, the charitable Trust is working with 10 schools across the city to provide free outdoor learning sessions for pupils.

Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert said: “The winning schools showed imagination and a real commitment to learning through nature. They communicated that to us in a way that allowed us to feel the passion, excitement and possibilities of their designs.

 “These gardens wouldn’t be possible without the generous support received from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. They will make a real difference to the schools involved and their pupils for years to come.”

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust will start work with the schools in the next few weeks, with the aim of having the wildlife gardens ready by Christmas.

Leicester tots go wild for new nature group

Under-fives from across Leicester have been out and about enjoying nature, in the first of a series of weekly Wild Tots sessions run by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

The preschool aged club has been set up as part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School project, which received significant funding earlier this year thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Following demand for places, a second, monthly Wild Tots group is due to begin meeting at Belgrave Hall and Gardens later this month.

Children get to take part in a range of outdoor activities, from wildlife-themed games and minibeast hunting, to treasure trails and storytelling. The groups meet come rain or shine, with children encouraged to have fun whatever the weather.

Martha Rose, education officer at Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust, commented: “In urban areas like Leicester, there aren’t many opportunities for children to find some green space and really enjoy the outdoors. Thanks to generous funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, The Wild Tots sessions now allow us to help little ones have fun exploring the world around them and teach them the joys of nature from an early age.”

As part of the Forest School programme, the Trust is also working with 10 schools across the city. The Wild Forest School and Wild Tots sessions are designed to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation, while building communication skills and confidence.

Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust offers children chance to win wildlife area for their school

Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust has launched a competition offering three Leicester city primary schools the exciting opportunity to have a wild area created in their grounds.

The ‘My Wild Life Adventure Competition’ is one of the many exciting activities organised by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School Project that will run during 2015 thanks to valuable funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The Trust is inviting all Leicester city primary schools to submit a design of a forest school or wildlife area that they would like to have created in their grounds. A panel of judges will select their three favourite designs, which will then be turned into a reality by the Trust’s team of Grow Wild gardeners.

Martha Rose, Wild Forest School project co-ordinator, comments: “We want the children to really use their imaginations with their designs, the more inventive the better! Perhaps you’ve got a great idea for a home for all those creepy crawlies or maybe you want to design a special place for forest school activities.

“There are lots of ways you can submit your entries too. Designs can be drawn on paper, built into a 3-D model, or even made into a short film or animation.”

There is a £3,500 allocation for each winning school’s wildlife area, so teachers will need to take this into account when pupils are coming up with their designs.

Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust recently received valuable funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, enabling it to establish the Wild Forest School Project and subsequently run a number of exciting activities such as the ‘My Wild Life Adventure Competition.’

Other activities include Forest School sessions with children from 10 Leicester primary schools, and for the younger ones, two Wild Tots pre-school groups will be starting in April. 

The project aims to provide fun and engaging activities for children in Leicester to explore outdoor spaces and learn about nature. These kinds of opportunities are particularly important in urban areas, where chances to explore nature may be limited. 

Forest School funding helps sow the seeds of imagination for Leicester children

Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust is offering children in the city a unique opportunity to get to grips with nature, thanks to a funding boost from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The Forest School initiative allows youngsters to explore outdoor spaces and take part in a range of fun activities designed to stimulate imagination, creativity and investigation.  Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust will now be able to work with 10 Leicester schools, as well as preschool and home educated children, to run a programme of special sessions.

Aimed at children in urban areas, where chances to explore nature may be limited, the Forest School project will also help three Leicester schools to develop wildlife areas within their grounds, giving pupils a chance to create their own landscapes. 

Simon Bentley, Director of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust, said: “This project will give children and young people in Leicester the opportunity to discover, explore and learn about nature through Forest School activities, developing their confidence and self-esteem in a safe and supportive outdoor space.”

Leicester is one of three regions across the country to receive funding to extend its Forest School programme.  The initiative is being supported by Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts and TV presenter, Nick Baker, who explained what the extra resources will mean for local children.

Nick commented: "The Wildlife Trusts are all about inspiring people, young and old alike, to engage and form personal connections with nature. However, there is always more we can do and thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are now able to reach more young people in some of our largest urban areas through our Forest Schools programme.

“I can't think of many better ways to change the future than by helping children see all the fun to be had in nature and, at the same time, gain valuable experiences and skills as well as a greater understanding and appreciation of the real and natural world."

Developed from the Scandinavian model of learning through outdoor play, the Forest School provides a programme of visits to each group over several weeks, giving children the chance to build relationships with the environment, their classmates and the course leaders. The team is trained to watch the children closely, appreciate different learning styles and personalities, and provide the right support for each individual.