As the summer holidays come to an end, children in East Yorkshire are returning to school, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is gearing up to welcome a new season of educational visits. This follows a highly successful summer for school visits across England, with unprecedented demand setting the stage for a new record-breaking season.
Throughout England, 98% of teachers who participated in an RSPB reserve visit this summer rated the experience as “outstanding” or “very good”. Now, the staff at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, which is home to the largest mainland seabird colony in England, are eagerly anticipating the arrival of new classes this autumn and beyond.
Over the summer term, more than 1,250 schoolchildren embarked on educational trips to RSPB Bempton Cliffs, immersing themselves in the wonders of nature. During autumn and winter, visitors can see the birds of prey and migrating birds that visit the reserve in the later months of the year.
The importance of educational visits
Lisa Yarrow, learning officer at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, shared her enthusiasm for educational visits to nature reserves:
“It’s brilliant to see the excitement and appetite for getting children out on school trips in nature again this year, and we’ve had wonderful feedback. There’s nothing better than seeing school children connecting with nature, whether it’s their first time spotting a puffin or watching gannets, the largest seabird in the UK, soaring overhead.”
Research has shown that outdoor learning can boost children’s confidence, encourage diverse learning styles, and make classroom-acquired knowledge come to life. Lisa added:
“Teachers often comment on how valuable it is for children to see these things in real life. We meet many children who have never been to a dramatic coast like this. It’s a unique experience for them.”
The dedicated education team at RSPB Bempton Cliffs delivers curriculum-linked sessions that promote discovery, exploration, and hands-on learning. These sessions are designed to be both enjoyable and informative, aligning with the reserve’s unique habitats.
Sessions at RSPB Bempton Cliffs primarily connect with science and geography, catering to early years, primary school, and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) pupils. These activities provide students with opportunities to use equipment, engage in scientific inquiry, and employ technical vocabulary in a meaningful context. Furthermore, they serve as inspiration for storytelling, poetry, and local history projects.
Lisa went on to say:
“As we move into autumn, it’s a wonderful time of year on the reserve, and a school trip is a great way to bond a new class. School trips are an essential part of a child’s education, and providing the opportunity for children to discover nature in its truest form is inspiring. It’s so important to connect our children to the natural world, and our hands-on school sessions allow that to happen.”
In the previous year, over 25,000 children from across England participated in the RSPB’s Schools on Reserves program, providing hands-on learning experiences in nature. Bookings are now open for the autumn term, as well as for the following spring and summer seasons. Early booking is advised to secure preferred dates. For further information, visit RSPB School Trips.
The RSPB also offers a variety of activities, resources, and opportunities to support teachers in taking learning outdoors and inspiring students to discover and appreciate nature when back in the classroom and school grounds. To find out more, visit RSPB Fun and Learning for Teachers.
RSPB’s successful summer of educational visits at Bempton Cliffs demonstrates the growing importance of connecting children with nature. As autumn approaches, these experiences will continue to inspire a new generation of nature enthusiasts, fostering a deeper appreciation for the natural world.