Glowing report for Generation Wild at the end of a busy school year

As schools around the country break for their summer holidays, it’s a clear A+ in the end of term report for Generation Wild – the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust’s innovative nature-connection programme for children from economically disadvantaged areas.

At the end of its first year, Generation Wild has already:

  • brought 12,500 children from more than 150 schools to one of seven participating WWT sites to help create a lifelong desire to protect and care for nature
  • delivered more than 350 Generation Wild school visit sessions
  • inspired an amazing 24,500 nature connection activities to be completed in school grounds, gardens and local green and blue spaces

Generation Wild uses the story of Ava, half-girl, half-bird, to help children connect with nature through storytelling and adventure. The children learn about Ava in the classroom before a visit to one of seven participating WWT sites, where they meet her in the form of a beautifully crafted puppet – and then follow her adventures using special “translatorphones” around the reserve. They complete Ava’s nature activities back at home and school in a quest to become “Guardians of the Wild”.

The long-term impact of the project will be assessed by researchers from Cardiff University but in the meantime fantastic feedback from children and schools taking part has already shown the success of the project. This includes 100% of teachers saying they would recommend it to colleagues. Other comments included:

  • “Absolutely fabulous – the children were totally engaged and captivated”
  • “This was absolutely magical for the children…they recognised Ava from the story and were thrilled to meet her”
  • “The children were mesmerised by Ava in her giant nest. They were excited to see her there and were inspired to help her”

Nature-based activities form an integral part of the school visits and top of the list for popularity with the children was building a nest, followed by meeting a mini-beast and listening to bird calls. Other popular activities including making friends with a tree and hiding a stone – but according to WWT’s National Learning Manager Mark Stead, all the nature activities went down well:

“Overall, the Generation Wild programme has been extremely well received by teachers and families,” he said. “Participation levels have been good – which is particularly pleasing considering that the early stages of year one delivery were still significantly impacted upon by Covid.

“Where we have tried something innovative and potentially risky, it has paid off,” he added. “The Ava story, puppet and translatorphones have been incredibly well received. They provide an added element of magic, which the children love.”

Mark also said that the dual-heritage element of Ava was seen as a particular strength, allowing non-white children to see something of themselves in Ava and find the project relevant to them. The project has been successful in reaching new audiences - with nearly half the schools taking part in Generation Wild completely new to WWT.

“While we’re really pleased with how Year One has gone, we recognise there’s still plenty of ways to make this project even better in Year Two and this is what we’ll be focusing on now,” said Mark.

“We’ve had such a positive response from schools, I know we’ll see plenty of them back again with new classes and Ava is looking forward to welcoming them back in the new school year!”