Primary school children should spend at least one hour a day learning and playing in wild places to help improve their wellbeing and confidence, a leading conservation organisation has said.

The Wildlife Trusts, which represents 46 local organisations and 2,300 nature reserves in the UK, has called on the next government to create a network of wild spaces where young people are free to climb trees, learn about wildlife and connect with the natural world while at school.

The conservation organisation said an hour a day outdoors for all British children aged four to 11 would help re-establish the connection between young people and nature in the UK.

In 2015, a YouGov survey for the trust found less than one in 10 British children have access to natural areas compared to 40% of adults when they were younger. Only half of children said their school had an outdoor nature area, 37% had never seen a hedgehog and most children surveyed had never found frog spawn in a pond.

hedgehog

For the study, UCL researchers found the overwhelming majority of children surveyed had learned something about the natural world, felt more confident and had better relationships with their classmates after spending time outdoors.

Of the children interviewed, 79% said the experience could help their school work, 84% felt they were capable of doing new things and 79% reported feeling more confident.

Prof Michael Reiss, Institute of Education, UCL, said: “Each generation seems to have less contact with the outdoors than the preceding one. We owe it to all young people to reverse this trend – for their sakes, for our sakes and for nature’s sake.”

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