The best classroom in the world

Our Teaching Trees Officer for East Midlands explains why she loves showing primary school children how much can be learned from a wood environment

By Nicki Jempson · April 13, 2017

“As a child, my playground was a little spinney in the corner of the field behind my house.  I wasn’t aware at the time how lucky I was to have spent most of my childhood in that spinney, climbing trees, making dens, burying treasure and inventing games with my friends. At the same time, I was learning about the seasons, about woodland plants and animals, and how create all sorts of imaginative pieces of artwork from natural materials!

It wasn’t really until I was in my first teaching post at a city primary school that I realised not all children are as lucky as I was and some children haven’t even set foot in a woodland, let alone experienced the adventures of den building and tree climbing.

After 24 years as a primary school teacher, I left the classroom to work as an Education Officer for the Royal Forestry Society delivering their Teaching Trees programme at Battram Woods in Leicestershire.  It was a job I had dreamed about – the perfect opportunity to show children how much can be learned in a woodland environment.

In the woods, I can teach groups of children from different schools all about the importance of trees and how we care for them and manage the woodland habitat.  The children and their teachers love coming to the wood, there is always something new to learn. It may be the names of trees, or a reason why trees are important or just that a woodland is a lovely place to visit. The teachers who accompany the children all say that they learn new things too and they are inspired to follow up the sessions back in the classroom.

When the children get back on the bus to go back to school at the end of the day, I am looking forward to the next day when a new group of children can come and experience learning in a wood. It is the best classroom in the world!”