Nature opens doors for pupils

SCIENTISTS working with pupils from eight primary schools in the region have produced research which shows pupils learn more when science lessons take place outdoors.

Dr Graham Scott and Margaret Boyd from Hull University have carried out a two-year project to help overcome the barriers teachers face in organising school trips and outdoor learning.

They have developed a lesson plan which allows schools to monitor and record the wildlife on their own school grounds. The academics have worked with eight primary schools from Hull, Scarborough and Hornsea with the help of £60,000 funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

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Their research found that pupils who had taken part in science lessons in the playground scored better in both literacy and ecology tests than those who had not.

Dr Scott said pupils learn more when lessons have a “real context” and he warned that pupils were not being given the chance to demonstrate their understanding of science.

He said: “Both Margaret and I are outdoors people. We run an RSPB explorers’ group and our keen to get children outdoors to learn. Everyone knows that pupils respond to it but nobody has ever looked to demonstrate this.”

The pair have presented their findings at this month’s Association for Science Education conference.

Mrs Boyd said: “When children are learning about plants and animals they should be actually getting out of the classroom and seeing them in real life, not just in a textbook.”