I was lucky enough to go to a village school. There were only 6 children in my year and we had two classrooms; one for the Infants and one for the Juniors. We lived in the village down the road and on warm summer days we would walk the two miles to school through the fields. I’m not painting a picture of a Victorian idyll here; I left primary school in 1999. Connection to nature was a part of my daily life; I’ve grown up loving the outdoors and wildlife and I feel I’m happier and healthier for it.

Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)

Sadly, children today are increasingly disconnected to nature. However here in the Broads children have fantastic opportunities to get closer to nature through the Field Teaching Scheme at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen.

Lee Cozens, a Field Teacher at Strumpshaw Fen, tells us about a typical day and why she loves her job.

“Children make the journey to our reserve just outside Brundall full of anticipation, kitted out for all weathers and slightly nervous about being ‘out in the wilds’. They stumble off the coach and wander, eyes wide, onto the reserve to our base-camp where their day of adventure and exploration begins.    

Throughout the day, they get to delve around our woodland hunting for secretive minibeasts, they wield nets at the pond to uncover the strange world that lurks beneath the surface, and they roam around our meadow catching insects and marveling at the tiny marshland flowers that grow there.

Field teaching at Strumpshaw Fen

Last field teaching season, we added a sleeping grass snake, a darting kingfisher, a swallow tail butterfly and two young otters to our many other wildlife spots. One little lad was chuffed to bits that he had seen a dinosaur! He had been fascinated to find the primeval –looking skeleton of a pheasant out on the meadow. It served as a reminder to us that there is wonder and magic in nature for children that goes beyond the strictly scientific and rational.

Here at the RSPB, we are keen that more children get to experience the wonder of this special outdoor classroom, so maybe you could show this article to a teacher you know. If you are a teacher reading this piece, please get in touch and see if your class can visit us this year.

We cover key parts of the curriculum through our programme and schools appreciate our professional approach, but to be honest the real learning that goes on here transcends any formal description. One little boy summed it up for me as he skipped, bright eyed, back to the coach at the end of the day. ‘That was much better than going on the Wii’ he exclaimed. We definitely agree!”

(For further information ring Lee Cozens on 01603 715191)

As part of our Great Escape Voucher offer you can claim two-for-one entry for adults and free entry for up to four children at Strumphaw Fen this winter.

Download and print this voucher to redeem the offer.