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Educator spotlight: Liz Latham

We spoke to Liz Latham, Principal at Queensmead Primary Academy, Leicester, about her school's involvement with Earthwatch Education and Tiny Forest, and what it means for the young people at her school. 

Why did you want to get your school involved in the Tiny Forest project?  

We wanted to get involved in the Tiny Forest Project as we have a focus on personal development, as well as a vast array of character-building opportunities built into all aspects of school life. We are committed to ensuring that pupils are inspired to maximise their development as members of both the school and wider community, as well as to understand their responsibilities as national and global citizens both now and into the future as they grow up.
With a global focus on environmental education, ecological awareness and sustainability, our school community is embracing all opportunities for pupils to participate in activities which highlight these aspects.
For our school and students, the Tiny Forest provides a fantastic opportunity to be part of something which has an impact locally, nationally and globally: by developing their knowledge about biodiversity as Citizen Scientists, pupils understand what affects the natural world in their local area and can link to Tiny Forests in other parts of the country/world to be part of a wider network – this increases their sense of belonging and responsibility.
They’re learning new, transferrable skills which provide a good grounding for their future in terms of employability.

For your school, what challenges does the project address?  

The challenges addressed by the Tiny Forest project are around expectations and experiences – our school is in the 10% most socially deprived areas in the country: we promote future aspirations and provide experiences that pupils wouldn’t be able to access. 

What impact do you think it will (or is already having) on your students and teachers?

It has already had a huge impact on pupils and staff – it’s generated a real excitement and awareness about addressing environmental concerns which has springboarded additional new projects in these areas.  

Why do you feel this is important? 

The explicit learning around pupils carrying out their citizen scientist role has developed pupils’ knowledge and skills. Most importantly for our pupils has been the development of personal skills in our ‘Reconnection Curriculum’ such as empathy, resilience, problem-solving and a sense of responsibility. Offering pupils the chance to be pro-active in response to wider global issues has been a very important thread. 

What has been the highlight so far? 

Highlights have been seeing pupils thoroughly enjoying themselves in whatever task they’re doing from planting and mulching to measuring and recording as well as just sitting , reflecting and being still. 

What will the lasting change be? 

The lasting change will be the opportunities the Tiny Forest gives to support our curriculum and offer unique experiences for pupils to develop their understanding of their own roles and responsibilities to the environment both now and as they grow to adulthood. 

Any other comments?  

We’re really grateful to have been offered this opportunity and the ongoing support that goes with it. Thanks from us all! 

Image credit: Queensmead Primary Academy


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