Tackling the need for children to be more in touch with nature this winter

Education giant Tes launches the fourth of its ‘Live Lessons’ series with an interactive lesson delivered in partnership with the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) to help children connect with plants.

31 January 2023

On a cold, dark January day, it is hard to believe that any garden or open space is teeming with life, but this is what the new lesson will teach Primary school children. The RHS education team will show how plants adapt to different environments, but also delve into the hidden life in a winter garden and the wellbeing benefits of getting outside year-round.

Tes has joined the RHS to produce a lesson that schools can choose to live stream into their classrooms on the 31st January, or download and run at any point this term. The lesson is curriculum-linked to science and is aimed at upper key stage two children. 

There has been much research on the wellbeing benefits of getting out into green spaces and gardens and the impact this has on school aged children. In a recent report the Office for National Statistics highlighted that one in eight households do not have access to a garden or shared outdoor space in the UK, which rises to one in five in some urban areas. Another survey, carried out by the Government and Natural England, demonstrated the positive role of nature in supporting children’s well-being, with eight in ten (83%) children interviewed agreeing that being in nature made them very happy. The impact on wellbeing for children spending time outside was also highlighted, where two in five (40%) adults agreed that their child seemed happier when they have spent time outside.

During the winter months, due to shorter days and miserable weather, children often spend more time indoors, but this lesson will demonstrate that gardens aren’t just for the warmer seasons and provide year-round benefits for people and the planet. The lesson takes place in RHS Garden Harlow Carr, near Harrogate in Yorkshire, and explores how plants adapt to different environments to survive, comparing the adaptations sub-tropical and Alpine plants need to cope with light, wind, moisture and temperature levels in their habitat. The variety of different plants found in our gardens means that there is always something to do, as flowering, fruiting and growth occurs throughout the year depending on a plant’s adaptations. 

Suzanne Moss, Head of Education & Learning at the RHS, says: “This lesson is an opportunity for children to understand how amazing plants are and the incredible ways they adapt to their environments. The fact that it is so easy to run for teachers makes the live lesson a really good entry point for schools. The RHS offers educational visits to its five gardens as well as running the Campaign for School Gardening which aim to make sure every young person in the UK has the opportunity to develop a meaningful connection to nature and make a positive difference as they learn to take care of plants and our planet. We are hoping this lesson will lead to schools engaging with the other free programmes we offer.”

Havva Baskal, Head of Partnerships at Tes, added “The whole point of the live lessons is that they are an easy way for teachers to run an interactive lesson that ticks the curriculum boxes whilst giving children exposure to new ways of learning their topics. Taking the outside in during these cold winter months is great, but it will also encourage kids to get out and explore. The lesson will be offered as a recording after it has been streamed, making it flexible enough to fit into any school's timetable whenever they decide to teach it.”

A Tes poll showed that 70% of teachers feared that spending cuts forced by rising costs were likely to prevent them from delivering the broad and balanced curriculum required this year, which is why Tes has partnered with a select number of brands to deliver curriculum-linked lessons with a twist – offering students all over the country new and exciting content across a range of subjects and that all important ‘cultural capital’ that is required by the government.

This is the fourth lesson Tes has released from their year-long programme of free, easy-to-use interactive lessons in a range of subjects and key stages.