Nation’s children not getting enough access to nature?

October 12, 2012

You may think hedgehogs have a prickly nature, but two fifths of school aged children and a quarter of adults in the UK think they are the most lovable creature in the garden. Kids and adults also agree that slugs top the list of the UK's biggest garden pest.

Mini beasts, such as worms and beetles, are the most mis-understood wildlife among school-aged children with one in seven not wanting them in their garden.

The research marks the launch of The Co-operative's new wildlife and habitat education programme that will teach school kids how to build ‘hedgehog houses' and create ‘mini beast motels' at school, providing a real haven for wildlife within local communities.

The new materials are an exciting addition to The Co-operative's Green Schools Revolution, a free environmental education programme, and will be rolled out to over 5,000 primary and secondary schools across the UK that have already joined up.

With over two thirds of adults concerned about wildlife and habitat loss in the UK and 90 per cent believing it's important that schools teach their children about nature, the new programme is sure to be a big hit with parents.

The Co-operative's Green Schools Revolution programme, which was launched last year, has already given thousands of pupils the chance to learn about saving water, renewable energy and living healthily.

Now, schools will also be able to teach pupils about conserving nature and attracting local wildlife through the new biodiversity programme with resources and activities to encourage wildlife to thrive within local communities. In addition, Green Schools Revolution will give pupils the chance to learn more about Fairtrade and co-operation.

According to the survey, we’re out of touch with the creatures that lurk at the bottom of the garden, with more than half of school kids and one third of adults saying they have never seen mini beasts, such as worms and beetles, in their garden at home.

This may have something to do with the fact that, during school, a third of seven to 14 year olds have never learnt how to identify different insects and mini beasts and 40 per cent have never visited a wildlife garden.

Reassuringly though, three quarters of kids do want to learn more about wildlife and nature with a fifth putting ‘going to a farm' and ‘visiting a wildlife garden' at the top of the list of things they would most like to do at school.

Paul Monaghan, Head of Sustainability and Social Goals at The Co-operative Group, said: "We are lucky that our youngsters have such a tremendous appetite to learn more about green issues, wildlife and habitat conservation, Fairtrade and co-operation.

"Through our Green Schools Revolution programme, we’re supporting the thousands of switched on teachers who want to ensure the next generation are better equipped for the challenge of building a more sustainable world."

All Green Schools Revolution schools across the country have access to a wide range of free cross-curricular classroom resources and activities through, giving young people and teachers the tools to inspire change in their schools, homes and local communities.

The Co-operative also offers schools free, fun and educational visits to its own wind farm to see renewable energy in action and to eight Co-operative farms to see first hand how food grows, how to cook it and also how to protect and conserve local wildlife. 

Additional Information:

  • One Poll surveyed 1,000 children aged between 7 and 14 and 1,000 adults in September 2012.
  • Green Schools Revolution is a comprehensive learning resource prepared by education specialists and available to all UK primary and secondary schools for free.
  • As one of Britain's largest farmers, over 80,000 children have visited one of our Co-operative farms, gaining hands-on experience about where their food comes from.
  • The Co-operative Group is the UK's largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers.  It is the UK's fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain's largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas.
  • The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at