Over the last year and a half, I have been working on a project within a selection of primary schools, mainly in Michael Drayton Junior, where I work. I was dismayed at how few common bird species (or any other species of commonly found wildlife) that both pupils and many staff could identify. I wanted to develop some kind of challenge to encourage kids to want to learn to identify common species of birds, initially. Combining this with bird feeding stations in school, I aimed to make them much more aware of the wildlife that was right on their doorstep.
Over the last year, I have trialled, tweaked and modified the scheme and have been amazed at both the response from the staff and pupils, but also at the results! In the school I teach at we now have over 350 pupils able to identify 6 common birds (level 1), over 50 able to identify 12 common birds (Level 2) and nearly 30 pupils able to identify 20 common birds (Level 3). I even had to develop a Level 4 to cater for those keen pupils who had achieved Level 3 and wanted more. You can find out more about it and see the levels on our school website
I have trialled this in an Infant School as well, with a class of Year 1 pupils achieving both Level 1 and 2 and nearly 98% of the Year 2 class achieving both levels! The reception class are now interested.
The incentive for these pupils is a cool badge and certificate and the status of achieving such levels has risen greatly within school. Combined with all the other work I have been doing at Michael Drayton, it is now cool to be interested in the natural world and a Level 3 Bird ID badge has a lot of status!