"Biodiversity is often one of the first features of the environment to figure in school activities"
‘Biodiversity – The UK Action Plan’ (1994)
Definition of Target Audience
The target audience is the staff and students in all schools Lancashire.
Links with Species and Habitat Action Plans
Today’s school students will determine what happens to biodiversity tomorrow. Concern about environmental issues is probably greater at the present time than it has been for many generations. If this concern is to be translated into informed and positive action then it is important that biodiversity and other sustainability issues are integrated into the curriculum. The schools sector taken as a whole has substantial landholdings which form a significant part of greenspace in urbanised landscapes.
Current Initiatives in Lancashire
Methods of Communication with Target Group
Teachers need time, training and some external assistance to integrate environmental issues into the curriculum. As far as the Science National Curriculum is concerned, biodiversity is particularly relevant at Key Stages 1 -4 (5 - 16 year olds). However, there are other subject areas that can be used to introduce biodiversity concepts such as in English or Mathematics. There are also relevant A and AS Levels (e.g. "Science for Everyday Life" AS Level).
Schools lack sources of local biological data that can be used for Science Attainment Targets. This issue could be addressed through the BAP Public Involvement Plan by the promotion of links with universities and/or field centres and through encouraging schools themselves to collect and share biological data. There are several existing projects) that encourage schools to collect ecological data. Examples include the RSPB's garden birds survey, or the Mersey Basin Trust's river and stream surveys. If there were a mechanism for schools to readily exchange this information, it would enhance the value of these data sets. For example, schools could compare the results of surveying 'their' local stretch of canal with other sections of the same canal surveyed by different schools.
There are often good opportunities in School Grounds to improve biodiversity but there can be problems. Firstly, lack of funds to set about the task (or lack of knowledge about sources of funds). Secondly, there can be problems over the maintenance of environmental areas once these are set up. In the case of some (particularly urban?) schools it may be difficult to improve school grounds (e.g. if they are mainly concrete) and schools might look to ‘adopting’ other pieces of land. For this reason, the Mersey Basin Campaign operate an ‘adopt a stream scheme’ and Tidy Britain Group encourages schools to adopt sections of road verge.
Historically, UK conservation movements have found it difficult to engage with certain sectors of the community (in particular with ethnic minority groups). A better understanding of why this is the case will help the project when it comes to gaining active support from schools in some parts of the county.
Date: April 2001.