Two schools from the Stroud area have been observing and documenting the changing seasons as a way of helping their students notice, benefit from, and protect nature.
Amberley Parochial School and Stroud High School are taking part in the project run by naturalist Domonic White of Nature’s Racers.
Nature’s Racers was set up to encourage people of all ages to experience, care for, and protect nature. The structure being inspired by a well-known quote from Sir David Attenborough: “No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
Domonic explained: “From mainstream global media to local activism there is a lot of focus on climate change with many (including UN Secretary-General António Guterres) considering it to be an existential threat.
“For many this can feel like too large a problem to influence in a meaningful way, and with ‘green’ now being big business there can be additional challenges to finding the best way forward. In my opinion (whilst acknowledging time is not on our side) there first needs to be a more fundamental shift in our thinking – how we see and value life, the world we inhabit, and those who we share it with. We need to (re)connect with nature, remind ourselves that we are a part of it, and that without nature we are nought.”
Starting on December 7th, the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) is being held in Montreal, Canada. The aim of the conference is for governments from around the world to come together to address the alarming deterioration of biodiversity and the impact this has now, and for future generations.
Domonic added: “I’ve been blown away by both Stroud High School and Amberley Parochial school – the students and the teachers too. For the Eco-Twinning project, all we ask is for students to notice nature for two minutes each day, and then at the end of term for them to share some thoughts or feelings about what they’ve experienced.
“As well as being educational and relaxing, it’s widely recognised that connecting with nature can have a positive impact on mood and wellbeing. Noticing nature can be as simple as appreciating how light passes through a raindrop rolling down a windowpane, the gentle movement of leaves on a distant tree, or the explosive power of a pigeon when it takes off. Focusing on seasonal change has a magnifying effect on what we see, and the beauty shared by the students in their Autumnal photographs immediately made me realise how special this particular twinning was going to be.”
Paul Beech, a teacher at Amberley Parochial School, said – “It’s unusual for primary schools and secondary schools to work together, so to see students with as many as six years difference in their ages discussing nature, sharing what they have noticed and working together, as well as seeing them talk about the transition to secondary school, and watching them admire each other’s photographs and sharing their love of the natural world, was awe-inspiring.”
Domonic explained: “Students from Stroud High School accompanied members of staff to lead a truly inspiring afternoon of activities with the year 5 and 6 pupils at Amberley. A standout student was the incredibly knowledgeable Amy – a leading member of the Stroud High School Eco-council who first contacted Nature’s Racers about joining the Eco-twinning programme.
“Emma Utting, a geography teacher at Stroud High, gave a wonderfully visual lesson on why we have seasons and how the earth moves around the sun, also bravely deploying the use of technology to create a word cloud in real time by collating input from the children for words that come to mind when they think about Autumn.”
Ms Utting said: “It has been a great experience working with Domonic to encourage young people to think about the ‘big picture’ in terms of their physical world and to take a few moments on a regular basis to notice and engage with nature around them. Thanks should go to Amy, one of our year 12 students at Stroud High School who approached Domonic to set up the twinning project with Amberley Parochial School. Such a positive experience for everyone.”
Scroll through the gallery of photos below: