Dear Mr Gibb…

If you read one of my latest posts, Thanks Mr Gibb but nature is important, you’ll know that back in July I met with my local MP and then went onto write to Nick Gibb, Minister of State at the Department of Education, about the need for outdoor/environmental education on the National Curriculum.

After Nick Gibb’s very unhelpful, but predictable, reply I have gone on to set up a very exciting project/campaign that I hope to share with you all in the next few days. Along with this I also wrote back to him. I haven’t received a reply yet but I’ve decided to share the letter that I wrote with you all.

Dear Mr Gibb

 

Thank you for your reply to my letter, a copy of which I have attached. I’m pleased you took the time to reply to what I had to say regarding the need for more outdoor education at primary level.

 

However, I would like to reply and add to my point. In the letter it seems you have stated what is on the National Curriculum at the moment, I had done my research before sending you the letter so knew this already. I feel as though you have not considered my point and you don’t reply to my statement that we need more young people coming through into either professions in conservation etc or the importance of why every child needs to have a connection with their natural surroundings. I don’t mean to be rude but do you not understand that nature is important?

 

You mention how the environment is included in biology and geography. When I think back to any environmental education throughout my primary education I can’t think of one example. I asked my brother and he said he may be able to think of one, however this was organised solely through the school. The only reason why he remembers this is because it was practical, which is what’s so important. It imprints in your mind due to the amazement you experience.

 

I go into local primary schools and do activities with younger children through community based projects. some of which I’ve helped set up myself. The last visit into a school was just a couple of weeks ago when we did bug hunting with year 2’s. None of them had done anything like this before. When a blackbird flew past, they had no idea what it was.

 

My point is, if there is a teaching of nature in schools which is already on the curriculum then it simply isn’t enough. One of the children said that it was one of the best days of his life! It not only benefited him in the way that he learnt something new but it made him feel better, made him happy. Isn’t making a young child at school happy something that you should aim for? Improving a child’s education? Except I know that he will most likely never do anything like that again. It was a one off project, the school have obviously not enrolled in something like this before or else he would have been able to tell me. In today’s society when most parents worry about dangers and so called ‘dangers’ he probably won’t be encouraged to do it again either.

 

A question I’d like you to ask yourself is when you were younger, how did you fill the time when you had nothing to do or just for something to do in general? If you were like my parents and grandparents then it was the case of just going outside. Climbing trees, riding bikes, playing sport in big open fields, appreciating the wildlife around and so on. Perhaps it was something you took for granted as it was always there and always an option? Your parents had no problem with it and nether did society. As well as this, at the moment, deep down I’m sure you understand and know what towards nature has positive and negative impacts. From Wikipedia I know you were born in 1960. From the State of Nature report I also know that since 1970, when you would of been 10, 60% of animals and plants studied have declined.  Along with other threats too. Now isn’t that scary? Well more then scary, nature not only in the UK but abroad too is in some trouble. We can do what we can now but what about the future? What way will it go? With figures showing only 1 in 10 children connect with nature, I’m very worried and it could well be very bleak.

 

But why is that so important to be acting for nature? Well you just think back to what you had to eat last night, everything on that plate was only there because of the natural world. All the ecosystems. It’s why we’re here today so not only is it beautiful and enjoyable but important to all of us.

 

I’ve gone a bit away from the point but I wanted to make myself clear. Even though some outdoor education is there, I know it varies from school to school. A child isn’t going to develop any type of interest when they have a couple of lessons in year 2 then a couple in year 5. I’m sure you’re very aware that it doesn’t work like that. Although out of school outdoor activities, sessions etc for children are very important, not every child has the privilege to attend.

 

I have many more points that I can add to my argument and I would appreciate it if you could take some more time out and we could arrange to chat about this extremely important subject in person.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Georgia Locock

GE2015 Day Six: Inspiring The Next Generation

If you read my introduction blog you’ll know that throughout this week, running up to the general election, I am doing a blog a day about some key issues which affect wildlife in the UK and in some cases on a world wide scale. As I only have six days and I’m currently taking my GCSEs I’ve only been able to include six topics but of course there are many more. With these blogs I hope to show people the problems our wildlife faces, what we can do, who it affects, what will happen if we don’t address the problem, see if there’s been any mentions in party manifestos and much more! I’m also trying to exaggerate the fact that we should be voting for nature and the environment. Along with sending the posts to party leaders, MPs etc. It’s key that we address problems facing wildlife now so it’s not too late as when it is too late we’ll be in serious trouble.

This is the last blog of my General Election posts. Although it’s taken up a lot of my time writing them and my revisions been slightly pushed I have enjoyed doing them very much. The response has been great!

This is a topic that I’ve blogged about quite a lot in the past but that’s because I think it’s a really important issue. What first provoked me to get interested in this issue is the fact that everyday I go to school and I’m surrounded by kids that have no idea of the natural world around them. I’m not expecting them to become experts but when they have no idea about how it benefits us in a number of ways it’s quite distressing. Instead they abuse it, take it for granted, don’t appreciate or understand it. As I’ve explained in previous blogs nature is very important, it does a number of things for us humans. For example it provides clean water, stops erosion, pollinates crops and much more. It’s also a fantastic and very enjoyable wonder.

It’s very important that we inspire and educate the next generation, here are a few examples why…

  • Over the last 40 years Earth has lost half of its wild animals
  • 1 in 3 species have halved in the last century
  • In the UK alone 60% of species have declined over the last 50 years
  • Turtle doves have declined by 93% since 1970
  • Hedgehogs have declined by around a third since the last millennium
  • The small tortoiseshell butterfly has declined in abundance by 77% in the last ten years
  • Of the 3,148 species analysed for the State of Nature report, one in ten face extinction
  • 97% of lowland meadow vanished between the 1930s and the 1980s

Why is this happening?

Some of the causes to why our wildlife is declining include the intensification of farming, this includes no areas left for nature and the use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals. Also the loss of meadows, hedgerows, and ponds. As well as the building development, cutting down trees faster then they can re-grow, harvesting more fish than the oceans can re-stock, and emitting more carbon than oceans and forests can absorb. These are just a few reason why our wildlife is declining here in the UK and on a world wide scale. There are many other reasons too, some on a much smaller scale. For example the idea of people tarmacking their garden or not having holes in the fence where hedgehogs can come in.

As you can see the problem is getting worse, our wildlife has declined dramatically over the past few decades and you can read more about this on the State of Nature report. On some articles I’ve recently read they have said things like decline and extinction of species can lead to ’empty landscapes’, just imagine how awful that would be! Even though lots of charities and organisations are doing fantastic jobs with the public’s backing, there is still work to be done. For example educating people.

Why education?

Well obviously there are lots of other things that we can do to reverse this decline but one that I think is a major factor is through educating people, especially younger people and children. Therefore I decided to choose it as a topic as part of my General Election posts.

Where to start, why is education important? Well that’s a difficult question to break down as all in all, it’s vital! Whilst at school some of the more interesting and important things that we learn tend to stick with us, or the idea behind it. Also when educated it opens us up, we want to learn more about that subject and it makes us more interested. Therefore education is a way forward. If a child was to grow up with gadgets and have no real experiences of the natural world around them then when they went to school and they are introduced to the wonders of the natural world just imagine how fascinated they’d be! Not only would it be a first but as a young child budding to find out what the world is about their curiosity could go on and on. I’m 16 and every time I go out whether it be on a walk on my local patch after school, setting my trail camera up or going out with my camera at the weekend there is never a time I’d either be willing to come home or come home regretting I ever went out.

Not only would this get the child interested but it would bring their imagination to life and the enjoyment of it all could make them very happy too. Then as the child grows up they’re introduced to different aspects, without a doubt when they’re older they’ll remember these experiences and be willing to share them with their own children or pass the memories and experiences on.

Overall, we all know nowadays that there’s more gadgets about and lots more opportunities etc so children don’t get the joy of going outdoors and enjoying nature for what it is but with this extra push whilst they’re at school that could trigger the enthusiasm off.

The link between decline and education

First of all, as I mentioned before, it is teaching and showing the child to go and explore. With this they’ll learn to appreciate what it’s all about and respect it. If they do this then they’ll pass it on to their friends and their own children in the future. Respecting and enjoying the outdoors could become ‘cool’ and they’ll begin to learn if they respect nature then they need to do other things too. For example basic things like using less energy, water and not dropping litter along with recognising a wildlife crime and sticking up for what they belief in for the environment.

Local candiates replies

A few weeks back I did a blog for the group A Focus On Nature where I spoke again about why we need to inspire the next generation. You can read it here. After writing my post I emailed it round to all of my local candidates for their reply and take on inspiring the next generation. I was very pleased to have a reply from all of them, but unfortunately not from the UKIP candidate.

Labour (Chris Worsey) – he replied by saying that my blog was on a much needed subject and agreed with the fact that children need to be out and about more enjoying the natural world. He said how some of his childhood memories include exploring the outdoors – much better then being sat in front of a computer screen!

Conservative (Michael Fabricant) – I didn’t get as much as a reply from this candidate but he did say that if he is re-elected that he’d be willing and happy to take the issue further, especially on educating people about local wildlife.

Liberal Democrats (Paul Ray) – He agreed with my idea of that natural habitats need to protected. He also sent me some information about the parties record of delivery on this subject and what they promise to do more of in the future. This included ‘putting nature at the heart of the Government’, access to nature and, safeguarding forests and planting more trees.

Greens (Robert Pass) – He agreed with the post and made the point of “We need many more young people to engage with the natural world and with the fight to save it.” He also made the point about more and more people are waking up and realising that a lot of this technology ‘progress’ wasn’t progress at all and are busy rediscovering the wisdom of stewardship and respect for the living earth. As well as this he attached an article called ‘Rewild the Child’ which was a great read.

It was great to be able to get a reply from some of my local party candidates, of which I am very thankful for.

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