To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking through the 25 Year Environment Plan to promote learning on the environment and sustainability for children in schools with low levels of access to natural spaces.
The 25 Year Environment Plan, published in January 2018, sets out the government’s ambition to improve the environment within a generation. A key commitment is to encourage children to be close to nature, in and out of school. The government announced £10 million funding for the Children and Nature Programme which aims to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds to have better access to the natural environment. The programme has been designed to make it possible for schools to undertake a range of activities in natural spaces, including learning about nature and how to care for the natural environment.
As announced by the Environment Secretary on 31 January, grants have recently been awarded to projects in the Children and Nature programme. Resilience through Nature, a consortium of The Wildlife Trusts, YoungMinds, Groundwork, the Sensory Trust and Field Studies Council, have been appointed to the Nature Friendly Schools project which will help deliver greener grounds and pupil visits to green spaces for schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils. Social Farms and Gardens, working with Thrive, will deliver the Growing Care Farming project which aims to achieve a transformational change in the scale, scope and uptake of care farming services in England for children and adults with a defined health, education or social need particularly those from disadvantaged areas. Funding for the Community Forests and Woodland Outreach project is yet to be awarded.
The announcement on 31 January marked the beginning of the 2019 Year of Green Action. Over the next 12 months government will work with businesses and communities to create ways for people from all backgrounds to connect with nature, protect our environment, and contribute to restoring our natural world.
As part of the 2019 Year of Green Action, the nationwide #iwill4nature initiative, led by charity Step Up To Serve and backed by government will support a series of activities for young people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.