Pioneering educational research in Panshanger Park near Welwyn Garden City
PUBLISHED: 14:46 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:46 18 January 2017
University researchers will investigate an innovative educational project on the outskirts of Welwyn Garden City as part of a national probe into the effects of the natural world on children.
University College London has chosen the Forest School at Panshanger Park as one of six projects across the country for research commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts.
Groups from several primary schools attend the Forest School over six-week blocks, when they are brought close to the park’s scenic beauty and outstanding wildlife.
The park is managed jointly by quarrying company Tarmac and the Hertfordshire and Middlesx Wildlife Trust, which try to balance the interests of human visitors and wildlife.
Becky Shenton, Forest School officer at the park, said: “It has long been accepted that being outside in nature is of benefit to people, both physically and mentally, and we really look forward to seeing hard data that relates directly to our work with young people.
“Personally I have seen the huge differences in children attending Forest School, from increased teamwork to non-verbal children speaking with their classmates for the first time.
“A robust project to back up all of our experience will be of fantastic benefit to Forest School, and the larger trust, and will inform our ongoing engagement with children and families.”
The research, conducted over two months, will use surveys to assess changes in children’s attitudes to learning, self-confidence, and views about nature.
Michael Charlton, Tarmac’s restoration manager, said: “We are proud to host the Forest School at Panshanger Park and see how much the children who visit get out of the experience.
“We look forward to reading the findings of the research and feeding this into our on-going educational work.”