Midlothian children go wild about nature

Wild About Scotland bus visiting Cuiken School in Midlothian earlier this year
Wild About Scotland bus visiting Cuiken School in Midlothian earlier this year

Almost 500 children across Midlothian have benefited from learning about the country’s endangered species and how to protect them, following visits from the ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus which recently marked its 450th school visit.

The specially designed double-decker bus brings a mobile classroom to schools, allowing students to learn about how to protect local habitat’s species, and the environment.

The award-winning campaign is part of a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Clydesdale Bank to help engage the next generation of conservationists, while also bringing the expertise available at RZSS to communities that might not otherwise be able to experience it.

The bus has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland while visiting more than 30,000 pupils in all 32 local authorities, including including pupils in Rosewell Primary School, Paradykes Primary School, and St Matthew’s Primary School.

Teaching up to 26 children at a time, the on-board specialist education team gave interactive lessons inside the bus on native Scottish species, their habitats and environments. Children also took part in a fun assembly, ‘The Bonnie Beasts of Scotland’, to learn about Scotland’s biodiversity. Including drop-in sessions, more than 55,000 have engaged with the Wild about Scotland programme.

As part of the legacy of the campaign, almost 1,000 tree saplings have been planted in school grounds across Scotland to help offset carbon emissions from the Wild about Scotland bus.

Additionally, the programme involves online Wild about Scotland resources. These can be accessed by any school for use in classrooms or school grounds. It also provides resources for before and after the bus visit to extend the children’s learning, allowing teachers and pupils to continue teaching and learning about Scottish conservation, even after the bus has left the school.

Barbara Smith, chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “We are very excited that the Wild about Scotland project has achieved the great milestone of reaching 450 schools. The project has helped engage children in every corner of Scotland, bringing them closer to nature and teaching them about the incredible local biodiversity that’s available on their door steps. We hope the project continues to create a lifelong appreciation of wildlife within all the schools we visited.”

Helen Page, group innovation and marketing director at Clydesdale Bank, said: “RZSS plays an important role in educating children about the conservation needs of their immediate environment and the wildlife it hosts. Their sessions across the country are engaging, entertaining and have made a great contribution to raising awareness of Scottish wildlife. We’re delighted the programme provides a great opportunity for children to connect with nature.”

To see when the Wild about Scotland bus is visiting your local primary school, or to access the Virtual Learning World, please visit: www.rzss.org.uk/rzss-education/wild-about-scotland.