New Wildlife Champions film launched

DWT's Emily Bacon brings outdoor learning to a generation of Exeter children

A new film is being launched this week which features the success of Devon Wildlife Trust in its efforts to get Exeter’s school children out of the classroom and into a very different, wilder place to learn.

Wildlife Champions is short film, but in its five minutes it packs a lot in. It features children, teachers, parents and classroom assistants from the city who have all been helped by Devon Wildlife Trust to take their learning beyond the confines of the classroom and into the great outdoors.

The film explores the work the charity has done since 2016 with over 5,000 children in 26 of the city’s schools. It follows Devon Wildlife Trust’s Emily Bacon and Paul Martin as they inspire a generation of Exeter pupils through school assemblies, wildlife gardening sessions, outdoor craft activities, lessons in wildlife exploration and all round fun. The project has been generously supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.   

The film shows the positive difference being made to local wildlife. However its main focus is the transforming influence wildlife and ‘wildness’ has had on the children and adults involved in the project. This story is told through a series of uplifting interviews with the people who have taken part.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Paul Martin, said:

“Classrooms are great, but all children come alive outdoors. The Wildlife Champions project is about showing children and teachers that there is another way to learn. We have loved introducing this wilder, outdoor element into the lives of the schools we’ve worked with and I hope this comes across in the film.”

Sharran Singh, classroom assistant at Stoke Hill Infant School, Exeter, said:

“I work with children who don’t have English as their first language and that have never had much outdoor learning. [through the Wildlife Champions project] They’ve come out of themselves. That’s the part I love the most. Devon Wildlife Trust have just brought a whole world alive for them, it’s just been amazing.”

Gary Speiss, Deputy Science Lead at Isca Academy, Exeter said:

“I found a woodland area at the back of the school. It was overgrown and unused. As a science teacher I wanted to use it as a resource for our students. I needed help so I contacted Devon Wildlife Trust and they encouraged me to join Wildlife Champions. I recruited a team of students and over the course of a year we opened up a woodland area, established a nature trail, we also established wildlife habitats. As the time has gone on the students have become increasingly independent, they are starting to make their own decisions and making progress, clearing paths, picking up litter. Week on week we’re making progress.”

Sarah Mackay, Headteacher at Stoke Hill Infants School, said:

“They [Devon Wildlife Trust] have been amazing, absolutely inspirational. They’ve come in to support the curriculum and what started as a small partnership has really grown and grown. I’ve noticed a huge difference in children’s attitudes, behaviour and learning, and the children’s sheer enjoyment at coming to school. We were described as a bit ‘outdoorsy’ once and I thought that was one of the biggest compliments we’ve had about our school!”  

Earlier this year it was announced that Wildlife Champions has received a further two years of support from Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. This good news means that the project will continue to inspire, bringing wildlife and wild places into the lives of hundreds of Exeter’s school children until 2020.

Watch the Wildlife Champions film