The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, established 1997, provides conservation and education about Scotland’s coastal ecosystems. They host a range of learning exhibits to inform visitors about the surrounding marine environment. As part of protecting Seabird populations, a Seaside School was established, as an early intervention model to enhance all children’s knowledge of local ecosystems, wildlife and living sustainably. The group note that children’s exposure to nature is at it’s lowest, with just 10% of young people having regular contact with the wild (Natural England, 2009).
The David Doig Foundation provided funding to support the Seaside School which children from 32 primary schools from across Edinburgh and Lothian benefitted from. Children experienced at first-hand Scottish seabirds, nature and the wilderness and enhanced their knowledge of local ecosystems, wildlife, food chains, green energy and sustainable living, such as recycling and eco-friendly transport modes. The children also tackled science subjects in a non-classroom environment and took part in group work and practical activities which added to their confidence and self-esteem.
One group that benefitted from the educational programme was a family outreach service supporting children from a disadvantaged community in Lothian, where children are known to have lower school attendance and attainment. Many of the children had said that they had never left their home or visited the seaside before. The children took part in workshops, which demonstrated the local geology and also created model volcanoes and took part in a scavenger hunt. These activities allowed the children to develop team-working and communication skills. The children had a wonderful day and were thrilled to visit the beach and create memories that they will treasure for years to come. The family outreach service were impressed with their visit and what the children had learned and are very much interested in visiting the Scottish Seabird Centre again.