At Northumberland Wildlife Trust, people are at the heart of everything we do.
We believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to learn about and have access to wildlife and wild places. Our experienced and dedicated staff can help you bring your learning programme to life at one of our nature reserves, or we can come out to your school grounds, or to a local green space. We will work with you to achieve your goals and make environmental education inspiring, relevant and fun for the children.
This has been an unprecedented year that has been so challenging for many and particularly for children, their families and their teachers. But we're still here, and we can help you plan for the coming months and into 2021, with many new opportunities to bring nature into your learning. So take a look at our new brochure which outlines all the activities we have on offer and related costs. All our activities are delivered in a Covid-safe, secure environment with the added assurance of extra flexibility for bookings in what we understand, is an ever complicated and changing situation.
Learning at Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre
Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre has excellent facilities to host visits from schools and other educational groups. The circular walk around the nature reserve takes you through wetland, meadow and woodland, with six hides from where you can watch wildlife. The pond with dipping platform allows for close exploration of an aquatic environment. In addition, we have a dedicated classroom for up to 30 students, with accessible toilets.
As well as the workshops run by wildlife experts, you can also ‘do your own thing’ and hire the purpose-built classroom for £60 per day to teach, store your own equipment and have your lunch. Please contact the Centre for more information on 01665 568 324 or email@example.com Note - it is essential to make a firm booking well in advance as meeting room space and coach parking is limited.
For more information on Hauxley Wildlife Discovery Centre:
Learning at Northumberlandia
Northumberlandia is an unusual site to combine learning about art, heritage, geography and of course wildlife and habitats. It’s a unique piece of art set in a 46 acres of woodland and grassland. The centrepiece is the world’s largest human landform sculpture of a reclining lady, designed by internationally renowned artist, Charles Jencks.
We offer expert-led visits to Northumberlandia but you are also very welcome to come on a self-guided visit, but please do let us know if you are a larger group (more than 10), or if you would like to bring a coach or mini bus so we can plan for parking – donation £25. Please contact 01670 738701 or firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your visit.
For more information on Northumberlandia:
Education in your school grounds
NWT can also deliver activities in your school grounds, which provides a valuable opportunity to connect with nature on a regular basis, improve your site and avoid transport. Please drop us an email us at email@example.com if you would like more information or would like to organise a visit.
We have also created a fantastic Environmental Education Activities Pack, full of activities suitable for ages 4-14. Each section of the pack includes all the information and resources you would need to run a successful environmental activity. The pack has been designed with five of our sites in mind (St Nicholas Park, Fencerhill Woods, Weetslade Country Park, Big Waters and Prestwick Carr) but can be adapted and used at any site of your choice! The packs are £10 (plus £1 postage/packing) to buy (in CD form) and can be purchased from our HQ in Gosforth.
On-going education projects
Environmental education at Weetslade
Since 2012, NWT has been undertaking education work with local school children at Weetslade Country Park in North Tyneside thanks to funding from the Land Trust. The work commenced as part of a project aiming to give young people the opportunity to enhance a green space local to their home, for the benefit of people and wildlife, and has grown into a strong partnership with the school involved.
Since 2012, children from Amberley Primary, Killingworth have visited the site in a series of sessions to undertake environmental education activities ranging from animal tracks and trails, mapping and treasure hunts and bird watching, as well as practical tasks to enhance the site for wildlife.
Two different Year 3 classes participated each academic year and the achievements were fantastic, planting approximately 700 native bluebells and planting 100 native trees per year. They also orientated themselves well by touring the site and reaching the drill heads at the top of the 95m hill where they enjoyed views to the North Sea and Cheviot Hills. The children experienced the heat of summer when the wildflower meadows were at their best and the extremes of winter when the north wind was sweeping across the site.
Autumn 2014 saw Burradon Primary School also join the project and their Eco Club participated for several years. They undertook various activities including examining a collection of animal skins and skulls, creating their own animal plaster cast of a foot print and creating an animal tracks trail.
Over the years, staff, volunteers, teachers and parents have worked together to allow this valuable engagement opportunity to be delivered. And especially since March 2020, when Covid-19 challenged all our lives, we've undertaken a stringent review of all our procedures and delivery methods, in line with Government guidance, to protect all participants and continue the important work on site.
As a testament to this hard work, we were able to deliver the first visit of the 2020/21 academic year with Amberley Primary School at Weetslade in October 2020. Children from both year 3 classes enjoyed a fun day, visiting the site for a staff led session, split over a morning and afternoon. The children undertook mapping activities, gaining experience with compass use and map making and put their skills to the test during a treasure hunt using maps created by their friends. Each pupil took home a wooden sculpture pencil holder they constructed from the treasure they’d found. The children and teachers will be welcomed back to Weetslade for their further three visits in spring and summer 2021, during which time they’ll undertake activities relating to habitats, species classification and animal tracks and trails.
Local schools support Restoring Ratty
Restoring Ratty (funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund) is a project to restore water vole populations into the Kielder catchment of the north Tyne, with a view to their eventual spread throughout the catchment and surrounding areas. More than 1,400 water voles have been released thus far on the project.
An element of this unique conservation project, is to engage with local school children, aimed at years 4, 5 and 6, to teach the importance of protecting endangered species and sustainability.
The following activities are on offer (timings are suggested and we can be flexible around your requirements):
- 10:30 - 11:15 - Introduction to the project in the school hall at Kielder Primary School (coach parking is available)
- 11:15 - 11:45 - Early lunch so that the children won't need to eat after they have been to the stream
- 11:45 - 12:00 - Walk/drive to release site (depending on where we go we may still need the bus)
- 12:00 - 12:45 - Plodge about in the burn and look for tracks and trails, feeding remains and droppings
- 13:00 - Water vole games
- 13:30 - End
There is also a 1.5 mile self-guided Ratty trail starting and finishing at the Castle which you are welcome to undertake during your day. The trail is educational and children can collect rubbings along the way whilst answering questions (please note - you will need to bring crayons and paper to do this).
You can get a flavour for the types of activities that children can get involved in from the short video below, created by children and a local film maker Alan Fentiman, to celebrate the first year of the Restoring Ratty Schools Partnership Project.
‘Restoring Ratty’ is a five-year partnership project between Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Forestry Commission England and Tyne Rivers Trust, aimed at the reintroduction of water voles to the Kielder Water and Forest Park area of Northumberland. It has all been made possible by National Lottery players through a grant of £421,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The Ratty team would be delighted to welcome schools to Kielder to undertake signs studies or survey work. Or alternatively the team is happy to run assemblies to talk to the children about water voles and our project. If your school would like to get involved, please contact the Ratty team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous education projects
Out and About
Funded by the Out and About Community Foundation, the aim of the project was to connect children to nature, using Forest Schools techniques, including den building, mapping activities, looking at animal skins and skulls, trails, campfire cooking and species identification.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust worked with primary school children from five Newcastle schools: Hawthorn Primary, Our Lady and St Anne’s RC Primary, Moorside Community Primary, Broadwood Primary, and Bridgewater Primary, with each school attending the wildlife charity’s Forest School site at East Chevington for six outdoor sessions.
As an added bonus, a number of children used digital cameras to capture images of their Forest School setting and activities which they subsequently shared with school peers and parents as part of an end of year assembly. They also highlighted items they had made and talked more about their achievements with some children using power point presentations and videos.
Lynette Friend, Northumberland Wildlife Trust People & Wildlife Officer said: “The funding from the Community Foundation enabled us to take groups of children out into the great outdoors so they could experience a wild time for themselves, instead of watching it on the TV. With our last assembly delivered just a week before the Christmas break, it’s a fantastic way to end the year! And who knows, sitting in one of the classes from the heart of Newcastle, there may be the next David Attenborough.”
Save Our Magnificent Meadows
Save Our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of our vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife. Led by Plantlife, the partnership is made up of eleven organisations and is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Thanks to the HLF funding, NWT was able to deliver work with schools between April 2015 and April 2017. The project was designed to raise awareness of the value of whin and calaminarian grassland in the North East with three key objectives:
- Promote understanding of the economic value related to minerals.
- Relate everyday things to quarries/minerals/landscapes.
- Increase children’s knowledge about conservation associated with sustainable mineral use.
Northumberland Wildlife Trust worked with six local schools in total, hosting visits to two local quarries, Barrassford Quarry and Howick Quarry, offering school children a tour of the site and teaching them about extraction plus restoration of the site. Delivery was facilitated through direct observation during a tour plus interactive quizzes and trails. Each visit included a trip around the quarry, a fun treasure hunt and a talk on the whin grassland. There was also the chance to observe newts which live in the quarry habitat.
Wild West Project
Bringing nature and people together in Newcastle’s West End.
In summer 2015, Northumberland Wildlife Trust and HealthWORKS formed a new partnership to begin a programme of engagement with local people in and around four public green spaces in the west end of Newcastle to help both organisations understand what role enjoyment of nature currently contributes to community health and wellbeing.
The project, linking into Edible Elswick, Greening Wingrove and Grainger Park, was made possible thanks to £12,800 from the Out and About Community Foundation and private donors, and delivered nine unique events supporting improved health and well-being across the west end.
Working with the Change4Life in West Newcastle Partnership, coordinated by HealthWORKS Newcastle, the project engaged with over 1,900 people of all ages and walks of life, taking many people on their first steps interacting with nature. The NWT team delivered diverse wildlife activities across four local parks including a fun Edible Elswick ‘after dark in the park’ event in Elswick Park which attracted over 100 local people.
The interactive wildlife events, focussed on encouraging outdoor physical activities such as bird spotting and listening to the dawn chorus, to trees and everything that lives in them, on them or underneath them.
Speaking about the project, Tracy Evans, Northumberland Wildlife Trust People & Wildlife Officer said: “This funding has been wonderful and has allowed people to do things which they would not normally have the opportunity to do, such as listening to night time sounds in Elswick Park or experiencing at first hand the dawn chorus in Nunsmoor Park. It’s been incredibly rewarding working with local families and helping to build their connection with nature.”
Outdoor learning helps develop a better connection with the natural world which is essential to human well-being. It also allows children to relate theory to real examples and acquire useful general skills which are allied to better life chances.