Pond dipping Toni White

History of Nature Schools

The Nature Schools story so far

Red Kite Academy Trust (RKAT) is a Multi Academy Trust established by The Wildlife Trusts in 2017 to set up and operate Nature Schools – schools where learning about, and through, nature will be embedded in the ethos of the schools, and where the natural world runs as a ‘golden thread’ through every aspect of a child’s school-life.

Red Kite Academy Trust originally intended to open four Nature Schools under the Free Schools programme, in Chippenham (Wiltshire), Oakhampton (Devon), Nuneaton (Warwickshire) and Smethwick (Sandwell). We consulted with the communities in each of the areas, and the support from the general public was overwhelming. Our proposed schools attracted nationwide media attention, and over 150 people came forward to offer their assistance in the governance of individual schools, or as Trustees and Subscribing Members of the Academy Trust itself.

In 2017, Red Kite Academy Trust submitted applications to become an Approved Sponsor for schools and to enter a competitive process administered by Devon County Council to open a school in Okehampton, Devon. This school would have been the first Nature School. Unfortunately, the Sponsor application was not approved and Red Kite Academy Trust had to withdraw from the process of applying to open the school. We would like to thank everyone who provided their enthusiasm, attended events and wrote to their MPs or Devon County Council in support of the Okehampton Nature School.

In May 2018, the Government announced a new window for Free School Applications, called Wave 13. The criteria for Wave 13 state that as well as having a need for new school places, the proposed school must also be in one of the areas with the lowest standards and lowest capacity to improve. This unfortunately means that, at this time, we will not be applying to open a Free School in Okehampton, Chippenham or Smethwick. Under Wave 13, we are very pleased to announce we are now applying to open our first Nature School in Nuneaton. 

Children thrive outside, they love hugging trees and counting beetles and worms. I have lost track of the number of times that a child has said to me "this has been the best day of my life" or simply heard the word "wow".

I love using nature and the natural environment while teaching and I believe children achieve so much more when learning outdoors too.
Vicky Dunne, Education Manager
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust