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Fieldwork: Investigating habitats in our school grounds

Investigating habitats in the school grounds. A bird nest with eggs inside.

Introduction

The National Education Nature Park is an initiative designed to increase biodiversity across the education estate and have a real impact on halting the decline of nature in England.

Investigating different habitats in the school grounds can develop a range of fieldwork and mapping skills, and facilitate pupils’ knowledge and understanding of features of the school grounds and the range of habitats it provides.

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Length of time

Flexible.

 

Suitable location

School grounds.

 

Equipment needed

  • map of the school grounds
  • a camera for taking pictures (optional).

 

Objectives

  1. Develop knowledge and understanding of how features of the school grounds provide different habitats.
  2. Develop knowledge and understanding of how different habitats support biodiversity.
  3. Encourage positive action to improve biodiversity in the school grounds.

 

Key skills

  • Fieldwork skills in observation and recording.
  • Map reading and recording information on maps.

 

Suggested delivery

In class, study a map of the school grounds, and identify key features such as the building, car park, wildlife area, field, etc. Ask pairs or groups of pupils to think about the range of habitats the school grounds might provide for birds, insects and other animals. What habitats do different sorts of creatures need? Where would pupils expect to find most wildlife?

Study this RSPB page illustrating the range of habitats which could be in your school grounds. Outside, allocate groups of pupils different areas of the school grounds to investigate. Ask each group which of the features shown on the RSPB sheet they can find in their allocated area. They could use a tally system to record the number of each feature and mark the locations of these on the map. If pupils have cameras, they can take photos to show the range of habitats provided.

In the classroom, ask each group to report on their findings. They could report verbally, make a poster, or create a PowerPoint Presentation. Use the information pupils collected to create a large map of the school grounds annotated to show the range of habitats.

Discuss the results of the investigation. How wide is the range of habitats your school grounds provide? What new features could be developed to increase biodiversity?

 

Potential risks to consider

Most school grounds are a relatively safe place for pupils to conduct fieldwork investigations, but before you go outside, encourage them to identify any potential risks (e.g. moving vehicles in the car park) and how to avoid them.

 

Possible follow up activities

Pupils could create a plan for improving biodiversity in the school grounds and propose it to the Headteacher, Eco-Committee, or School Governors.

 

Resources

RSPB – school visits to RSPB nature reserves

RSPB – activities

The National Education Park – find out more about the initiative

 

This collection of Fieldwork activities were created by Paula Richardson and the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning Special Interest Group (FOLSIG) for the National Festival of Fieldwork, the GA invites everyone to take part during the summer term.

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