Welcome to nature schools*

From left to right, Andrew Gabbitas, Cathy Wilson, Ed Green, Hilary Seaward, Paul Stone and Sue Waite plus Ian Carter. Copyright Leanne Manchester (The Wildlife Trusts)

Red Kite Multi-Academy Trust board

From left to right, Andrew Gabbitas, Cathy Wilson, Ed Green, Hilary Seaward, Paul Stone and Sue Waite plus Ian Carter.


21 December 2017
Okehampton Primary School Application
Devon Wildlife Trust has been working alongside the recently formed Red Kite Academy Trust (Red Kite) to open the first Nature School in Okehampton, Devon. In September Red Kite submitted applications to become a School Sponsor and to enter a competitive process administered by Devon County Council to open the school in Okehampton.

We have recently been informed that our application to become a Sponsor was unsuccessful. The reasons aren’t entirely clear, and we are seeking further clarity. Sadly, without Sponsor status we are unable to continue with our application to open the Okehampton School and have had to withdraw from the process. This has come as a huge disappointment to the Red Kite Trustees and all the Devon Wildlife Trust team who invested so much of their time and energy in this project.

Our collective passion and drive to open the very first Nature School is Devon remains very much alive. We will be learning from this temporary setback and we take much courage from the overwhelming enthusiasm we received from Okehampton communities and those from across the country who continue to be inspired by this new approach to primary education.

We would like to thank everyone who provided their enthusiasm, attended open events and were willing to write to their MPs or Devon County Council in support of the Okehampton Nature School. There is no doubt that your support strengthened our application hugely. We may not have been successful on this occasion, but the move towards promoting education through nature is growing in strength.

Red Kite is still seeking to open Nature Schools in England, and will keep its supporters well informed through this website.

05 December 2017
Following the General Election, our submission to the Department for Education continues to be delayed. We will submit our application when the opportunity to do so presents itself.

21 June 2017
The first meeting of the Red Kite Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) board took place in London.

31 May 2017
Over the last two years, a group of people from across the Wildlife Trust movement has been exploring the establishment of Nature Schools with an ethos based on learning about, and in, the natural environment. After considerable hard work, we are now able to announce the creation of the Red Kite Academy Trust.

Due to the announcement of the forthcoming General Election, our submission to the Department for Education to allow the Academy Trust to establish its first four Nature Schools has been delayed. We now expect to submit our application this autumn.

Support from the general public has been overwhelming, with the proposed schools attracting nationwide media attention during the public consultation stage. Over 150 people also came forward to offer their assistance in the governance of individual schools once these are established, or as trustees and subscribing members of the Academy Trust itself.

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support over the last few months. I hope you will return to this web page later in the year for the latest news on Natures Schools and the Red Kite Academy Trust.

Ed Green CEO, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

Copyright oliveromg/Shutterstock

The Wildlife Trusts are seeking permission to open four primary schools in England.

A team led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is working with specialist educational consultants to create a charitable company limited by guarantee called a Multi Academy Trust (MAT). This MAT will apply to the Department for Education for permission to create four new primary schools in England.

These schools will be established through the government’s free school programme. By writing the outline for their educational philosophy, the Wildlife Trusts can influence how the schools teach their pupils. Our plan is for one school in the following locations; Chippenham in Wiltshire, Nuneaton in Warwickshire, Okehampton in Devon and Smethwick in the West Midlands.

If successful we intend to create more Nature Schools in the future.

*'Nature Schools' is a working title. The final name for the schools is yet to be decided.

Learning outside the classroom ‘contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development and can also help to combat underachievement.

Ofsted 2008

Our response is an evolution from treating nature and wildlife as a special, one-off treat within a child's education to using it as the medium through which pupils learn all academic subjects.

Ed Green, Chief Executive, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust

When will this happen?

The application is being prepared right now and will be submitted in March 2017. If approved schools will open in 2018, or perhaps later depending on progress.

View our frequently asked questions page
or contact us

Why are we doing this?

We believe that using a school's local natural environment as a medium for education will improve children’s learning, and be good for them too.

View our frequently asked questions page
or contact us

What is our evidence?

There is a is a growing body of evidence to suggest that more time learning outdoors improves children’s well-being and educational performance. Ofsted believe this too.

View our frequently asked questions page
or contact us

Where will the schools be?

Chippenham, Wiltshire
Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Okehampton, Devon
Smethwick, West Midlands

How can I follow progress?

Visit this website on a regular basis or follow our social media feeds as we consult with communities on the location of the schools.

The Multi-Academy Trust.

Find out more about the Multi-Academy Trust and Governance.


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.

When the children visit us, they don’t just learn about bugs and birds, we offer maths sessions using naturally found objects to work it all out, we link to physics through play such as den building and create art using natural materials and nature as inspiration.

I find it amazing how engrossed children can get when learning outdoors. I think outdoor education is a vital part in the develpment of children of primary school age.

Katie Tiernan, Education Officer, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.