New campaign urges children to go where the wild things are-Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 28 October

New campaign urges children to go where the wild things are

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 28 October

Emma Seith

“How much do you love TV?” film-maker David Bond asks his six-year-old daughter, Ivy. “A hundred billion per cent,” she replies, “It’s so relaxing.”

A campaign is urging British children to take back their “wild time”, swapping 30 minutes of screen use for outdoor activities, such as camping, playing conkers or snail racing.

The call for a renewed connection with nature comes from the Wild Network, a collaboration of almost 400 organisations, from playgroups to the National Health Service.

They argue that more outdoor play each day would increase children’s levels of fitness and alertness, and improve their well-being.

The campaign – said to be the biggest ever aimed at reconnecting children with the outdoors – was launched last week with the release of Bond’s documentary, Project Wild Thing.

It tells the story of how, in a bid to get his daughter and son outside, Bond appoints himself marketing director for nature, working with branding and outdoor experts to develop a campaign.

“We sell every product under the sun,” he says. “Now our job is to sell the sun itself.”

He begins his journey by strapping a camera to his daughter’s head to find out what she does with her time. She spends more than a quarter glued to screens and just 4 per cent playing outdoors – the same proportion as she spends in the bathroom.

The “tragic truth” is that children have lost touch with nature, says Andy Simpson, chair of the Wild Network.

“Time spent outdoors is down, roaming ranges have fallen drastically, activity levels are declining and the ability to identify common species has been lost,” he says.

A 2008 survey by conservation charity the National Trust revealed that one in three children could not identify a magpie, but nine out of 10 could recognise a dalek.

Meanwhile research published by animal charity the RSPB earlier this month finds that only one in five British children aged 8 to 12 have “a connection with nature”.

“An extra 30 minutes of wild time every day for all under-12s in the UK would be the equivalent of just three months of their childhood spent outdoors,” Simpson says. “We want parents to see what this magical wonder-product does for their kids.”

Starting in January, the Wild Network will publish a series of short, focused “policy asks” to tackle the most serious barriers between children and nature. The aim is to put the issue firmly on the agenda of the political parties in the run up to the 2015 general election.


1. What are the benefits of spending more time outdoors?
2. Can you think of ways to make the great outdoors more appealing to young people?
3. Are there any other significant factors that might be keeping children indoors?
4. The article describes young people’s lack of knowledge about nature as “tragic”. Discuss whether or not this is a fair description.

Related resources

Outdoor phonics bingo

  • A motivating outdoor phonics hunt where pupils must collect all the sounds to win.

Outdoor maths: Measuring

  • Your class will need to work as a team to investigate different ways of measuring the playground.

The importance of exercise

  • Use this informative presentation to help students understand why exercising is an important part of life.

Effects of exercise

  • Explore the respiration system with this presentation on how the body responds during exercise

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

Intelligence-gathering agencies such as America's CIA, Russia's KGB and Britain's MI6 had networks of spies and informants operating across the globe in an effort to keep their country one step ahead of the enemy.

Football's governing bodies are once again being called on to do more to tackle racism in the game, after a star player faced bigoted crowd chants in a match in Russia last night.

Facebook is once again to permit its users to post videos showing graphic violence – sometimes as extreme as people being beheaded – after a temporary ban.

Australian wildfires: Risk to people and environment 'unparalleled'

In the news archive index