Over 500 school children visit the reserve each year, primarily from Key Stage 2. A range of activities are run by Philip Parker Associates Ltd on behalf of Forterra, which are all linked in to the Key Stage 2 curriculum. Visits from older students, including A-Level groups, are also welcome and can be taken on tours of the brickworks in addition to visiting the reserve. Organised visits are provided free of charge as part of Forterra’s community work.
School visits are typically organised before and after the Easter half-term break so children are able to see a lot of young birds and spring wildlife, however, visits at additional times of the year are also available on request. As part of a school visit, students are able to participate in a range of activities, which are outlined below.
School children are able to sit in our bird hide overlooking the main like and using identification sheets, as well as guidance from our helpers, identify as many birds as they can. Regular sightings include; Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Turtle Dove, Little Egret, Mute Swan and a large variety of finches and tits.
Our pond dipping platform provides a safe place to catch and observe the abundant under-water wildlife. School children are provided with nets, trays and identification sheets and are encouraged to identify what they find. Common species found include; water scorpion, three-spined stickleback, dragonfly larvae, great diving beetle and water boatman. We also have regular sightings of water voles, which often swim by when the children are pond dipping.
Our nature trail provides an informative and fun walk with panoramic views of the reserve, allowing the children to experience and learn about a range of habitats and the wildlife using them. Along the nature trail, children can expect close up views of snakes, lizards and a variety of butterflies and dragonflies in good weather.
Our dedicated fossil area provides an exciting and safe area for children to dig and explore for a huge variety of fossils. Children are provided with trowels and strong bags and can take home anything they find, as long as they can carry it back. Identification boards and our helpers will assist the children in identifying the fossils they find. Fossils found date back to the Jurassic period 140 million years ago and include; ammonites, belemnites, gryphaea, vertebrae, and a variety of small teeth.
Indoor Activities and Meet the Animals
As part of their visit, students and teachers are able to meet and hold the Nature Reserve’s friendly pet snakes. These include a royal python, boa constrictor and corn snakes.
In case of adverse weather conditions, indoor activities can be organised. These include fossil and wildlife exhibitions and a variety of quizzes for children to participate in. Fun and informative presentations about the reserve can also be provided.
To book a school visit please contact us on 01553 630842. Toilets are provided on site along with the availability of coach parking. It is advised that children and staff wear sensible footwear and dress appropriately when visiting the reserve.