For the last eight years Sussex Wildlife Trust and Sustrans have been running ‘Bike to Nature’ trips within Brighton & Hove.
This involves taking up to 45 children (pre-Covid) out on the roads and cycle lanes in the city to a ‘wild’ location where they can learn more about the wildlife and their local environment. Trips along the Under Cliff path to the rockpools in Ovingdean are particularly popular; other schools have opted for rides up to the Downs, Stanmer Park or around local parks. We’ve even run a couple of overnight ‘Bike it Wild’ school overnight camps up to the South Downs, with primary and secondary schools.
There are so many reasons why these trips beat getting on a coach and driving to a honeypot sight. Children are well prepared in advance of the trip by the Sustrans Bike-it officers who work with them in the playground to develop their skills and confidence on a bike. Some children spend several months beforehand learning how to ride a bike so they can come on this trip and if they don’t have a bike can borrow one, making the trips cheap and inclusive. Getting to the destination becomes part of the big adventure; good for fitness, wellbeing, confidence, an understanding of sense of place, and of course great for the environment. This zero carbon initiative is a positive step schools can take towards Brighton & Hove’s pledge to be Carbon Neutral by 2030, whilst also reducing traffic and air pollution in the city.
Whilst teachers are often a little apprehensive on their first ‘Bike to Nature’ trips, we are so often told by both teachers and pupils that ‘It was the best trip ever’. So we are delighted to have been nominated by Queens Park Primary School for the School Travel Organisers ‘Best School Trip’ award, and selected as a finalist. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the organisers of this national award like the fact that these trips are so important connecting children with their local environment, equipping them with life skills, and spreading important messages about sustainable travel as much as we do.
You can find out more about Queens Parks Year 5 trip to Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Deneway Nature Reserve, Brighton here
Our school engagement work at The Deneway was made possible by funding from Scottish Power Foundation