Education and inspiring the next generation

Young people are our future. We’re determined to help the next generation enjoy and connect with nature, so they’re inspired to protect birds and other wildlife.

A group of school children looking at flowers growing outside.
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Supporting young people

Generation after generation, we’re growing ever more disconnected from nature. This has profound implications both for people and wildlife, so we’re working to help young people build a connection with the natural world.  

We can offer support to schools and other educators through educational visits to our nature reserves and through activities such as Schools Wild Challenge and Big Schools’ Birdwatch. We also have a dedicated outdoor centre designed for teenagers and young adults – Cameron’s Cottage.  

Support for teachers and schools

We offer activities and opportunities to support teaching and to help inspire pupils’ love of nature through learning. We believe in getting young people outside and experiencing nature first-hand, which is why we created Wild Challenge for schools and why we welcome school visits at our RSPB nature reserves.  

Big Schools’ Birdwatch

Big Schools’ Birdwatch is an annual event run in tandem with the RSPB’s hugely popular citizen science survey, Big Garden Birdwatch. It’s all about counting the birds you see on your school grounds, so it’s a great way to engage children with nature, science and maths. 

When you submit your results, you can access our interactive online resources including different graphs and charts to display your results. Bird sightings from all schools across the UK and other trend data are also collected, so you can talk to your pupils about how your school compares with the national picture. 

We provide all the resources needed to join in with Big Schools’ Birdwatch, plus we offer plenty of fun activities for before and after the event to help your class develop their interest in wildlife and the world around them. We also offer resources in Welsh and English.  

In 2023, the top five birds spotted in Big Schools’ Birdwatch were: Blackbird, Woodpigeon, House Sparrow, Starling and Magpie. What will you see on your school grounds this year? 

Learn more about Big Schools’ Birdwatch

Schools Wild Challenge

Wild Challenge is a chance for your pupils to experience and enjoy the wildlife around them, all while gaining awards for their efforts. It’s free to take part in and offers a variety of self-guided activities that lead to Bronze, Silver and Gold awards. Whether it’s practising numbers on a bug hunt, discovering the species found on school grounds or writing about the wonders of nature, the activities are designed to work with and enrich the school curriculum. There are 24 to choose from, divided into two sections – Help nature and Experience nature.  

Wild Challenge provides a perfect framework for learning and is open to all ages and abilities. Mainly designed for primary aged school pupils in mainstream education, it can easily be adapted for Home Educators, pupils with Special Educational Needs and Early Years. The scheme has a Teach Primary Awards 4 gold star rating. 

See our activities

Two children crouched on the edge of a field path, investigating what they can find in the longer grasses.

Self-guided activities for early years and primary schools

We can provide activity worksheets to help you engage young pupils to connect with nature and provide homes for wildlife on school grounds. These include activities such as making an apple bird feeder or providing water for birds, through to making a home for bugs or installing a washing-up bowl pond.  

We also offer a number of ‘Spot it’ worksheets to encourage pupils to discover the wildlife on their school grounds. 

Resources can be provided in English and Welsh. For more information please email us at: education@rspb.org.uk You can also find RSPB Education resources on TES.

School visits

Where better to immerse your pupils in hands-on learning than an RSPB reserve? Get them excited about science by learning about the weird and wonderful wildlife and get them engaged in geography by seeing dramatic landscapes up-close. Sessions are led by RSPB educators who are specialists in their field and experienced with all abilities. You can choose from a selection of half or full day programmes to help you meet your learning objectives.  

  • Curriculum linked half or full day sessions 

  • Varied and well-paced sessions 

  • Get pupils working scientifically and using technical vocabulary in context 

  • Build pupils’ resilience and character 

  • Potential for ongoing learning back in the classroom 

Ready to take your class for a wild day out?

For more information about our Schools on Reserves programme, head here.

Or, if you're all ready to go...

Enquire About A School Visit

Activity centre for teenagers and young adults

Cameron’s Cottage

Cameron’s Cottage is an activity centre for teenagers and young adults, set deep within the New Forest National Park at RSPB Franchises Lodge nature reserve. The Cottage is designed to help schools, colleges, universities and other groups get stuck into the natural world through everything from outdoor cooking, shelter building and survival skills, to enjoying bat walks, carrying out a bioblitz and learning conservation skills. 

Cameron’s Cottage is off grid, with energy provided by solar, and the outdoor study centre has wildlife-friendly features – such as bat entrances – built into the design. A stay at the cottage is a unique experience, enabling young people to learn invaluable new skills and enjoy an immersive wildlife experience.  

Day and residential visits are possible and are happy to provide bespoke packages. Facilities include:  

  • Sleeping facilities for up to 19 people in four dormitories of varying sizes 

  • Two accessible rooms – one single and one with four accessible beds 

  • Fully equipped kitchen and facilities for indoor or outdoor cooking 

  • Accessible toilets and showers 

  • Communal areas inside and outside cottage, including outdoor fire pit with logs to sit on 

  • Outdoor study centre that's ideal for outdoor lessons or to support field study work 

Cameron’s Cottage is located at: Franchise Cottage, Telegraph, Redlynch, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 2PX.  

To find out more about visiting Cameron’s Cottage email us at: cameronscottage@rspb.org.uk 

Support Cameron’s Cottage

Cameron’s Cottage has been created as a legacy to Cameron Bespolka, who died in 2013 aged sixteen. Together, the RSPB and Cameron Bespolka Trust want to keep Cameron’s memory alive by encouraging more young people to discover the same joy that Cameron found in the outdoors. To find out about volunteering at Cameron’s Cottage email: cameronscottage@rspb.org.uk 

Four children crouched on the forest floor, smiling and laughing.
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