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Field teaching

We provide opportunities for children and staff to have fun, first-hand, memorable experiences of the natural world.

We aim to develop an understanding of natural heritage, and a practical and emotional commitment towards birds, wildlife and the natural environment. Our field teaching takes place outdoors and in context, inspiring participants to be confident and successful in their learning outside the classroom. We provide pupils from the Solway to Shetland with the opportunity to visit our field teaching sites and experience nature at first hand. Our sites cover the huge diversity of Scottish wildlife, from mudflats to seabird cliffs and from pine forest to peatlands.

We have 12 field teaching programmes. Full details of where they are and what they can offer can be found by following the link on the right.

In 2008, over 11,000 pupils took part in our field teaching activities and we plan to increase this number to 14,000 by 2012.

Vane Farm

Vane Farm is on the shores of Loch Leven, Scotland’s largest lowland loch and is part of the Loch Leven National Nature Reserve. The reserve covers a wide range of habitats, from freshwater lochside to heathery hilltop. It opened in 1967 when it was the first nature reserve in Europe to be bought specifically for education. Today, about 4,000 pupils a year visit the reserve or are visited by the Vane Farm teaching team.

Pink-footed geese in flight over icy RSPB Vane Farm reserve


Kelvingrove is in the west end of Glasgow. Our field teaching here is the first in Scotland be based in the middle of a city and brings pupils from Glasgow schools into contact with the surprising wildlife of an urban park.

Pupils can expect to see anything from mallards and grey squirrels to goosanders and kingfishers. The field teaching programme is run from the beautifully refurbished Kelvingrove Museum.

Grey heron profile

Mersehead and Sulwath Centre

Our first RSPB Scotland reserve to receive the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for the standard of its field teaching. Mersehead Reserve and the Sulwath Centre (opened 2009) are located on the beautiful Solway coastline, centrally placed within the Dumfries and Galloway region.

The stunning natural surroundings offer quality opportunities for schools to discover the Solway Firth first-hand, a habitat of international importance for over-wintering Svalbard Barnacle Geese with up to half the world population of this species, 14,000 birds! The area around the centre is being developed into teaching ‘zones’, outdoor classrooms and wildlife gardens including raised beds and wheelchair access to mini-beast and pond dipping areas.

View across marsh towards hills, RSPB Mersehead

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