Firstly I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Gemma Woodford and I’ve recently started working with Cumbernauld Living Landscape as the Creating Natural Connections learning assistant. I’ll be going…
Natural Connections Education
We’re working with primary and secondary schools across Cumbernauld to deliver award-winning education sessions that connect young people to nature. Sessions provide opportunities for young people to spend more time outdoors, getting to know their local greenspaces and gaining a better understanding what they can do to help protect them.
Early connections sessions
Our primary school sessions get pupils engaging with the nature on their doorstep. Sessions usually combine classroom-based learning with outdoor activities on school grounds. There may also be opportunities to explore local greenspaces and take part in environmental activities such as the creation of rain gardens and wildflower meadows.
Natural connections programme
This programme, conducted over a minimum of 12 two-hour (double period) sessions, is designed specifically to support secondary school pupils struggling with poor mental health, or at risk of disengaging from education. By learning new skills and building confidence while gaining an understanding of their local greenspaces, our participants are supported to reach their full potential.
In 2017 our outdoor education programme won the Youth and Education category at the Nature of Scotland Awards.
Continuing Professional Development
We also offer Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions in Cumbernauld, open to teachers across North Lanarkshire. Sessions are designed to build confidence in using local greenspaces to deliver lessons in topics ranging from literacy, numeracy, arts and mental wellbeing. They can be scheduled at evenings, weekends or inset days.
Natural Connection Education is part of our Connecting Young People to Nature work.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everyone can benefit from connecting with the nature on their doorstep. Taking part in our programmes brings a variety of benefits to both young people and their schools:
New skills and enhanced confidence: By providing alternative learning opportunities we’re creating more positive destinations for marginalised young people.
Improved health and wellbeing: Our programmes can improve both mental and physical health for young people at a time when there is a growing mental health crisis.
Better awareness and understanding: We’re introducing young people to Cumbernauld’s greenspaces and the opportunities and benefits they can bring, often for the first time.
Capacity-building: We’re supporting teachers and youth leaders to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver their own outdoor sessions and enrich their education activities.
In the classroom we learn about Cumbernauld’s greenspaces, local wildlife, and environmental issues.
We also spend time outdoors, and our participants often take on a variety of conservation and environmental projects, either on school grounds or at a nearby wildlife reserve or greenspace. Activities include:
- Tree planting to boost Cumbernauld’s native woodlands
- Wildflower meadow development to develop the town’s “Nectar Network”
- Raingarden creation to provide a natural flood prevention
All activities are age-appropriate and led by a knowledgeable Project Officer or Teacher Naturalist.
Our primary school sessions are open to pupils aged 8-11 years. We can also work with community groups (scouts, brownies, YMCA) in the same age bracket.
Secondary school sessions are suitable for pupils aged 11-18 years, although we can also accommodate older groups (e.g. college students). Sessions are designed specially for young people with poor mental health or at risk of disengaging from education. Participants are typically in S1 – S4, although S5 and 6 pupils often get involved as young leaders. We will cater to the needs of the school – mixed aged groups are encouraged as older participants can take on a mentorship role, enhancing their employment prospects.
Our education sessions all take place in Cumbernauld. However, we can also accommodate groups from the wider North Lanarkshire area if they arrange travel to a suitable Cumbernauld greenspace.
Primary school sessions can accommodate a full class (35-36 pupils).
The Natural Connections programme can accommodate up to 10 participants at a time.
We won’t go outside in the case of extreme cold, rain, snow or wind (speeds above 30mph). However, indoor learning is also part of the programme.
We can provide wet weather gear (wellies and waterproofs) for our Natural Connections participants.