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Top Lodge is top quality

Last modified: 13 February 2009

Boy peering into jar of water collected from a pond dipping exercise

The RSPB and Forestry Commission’s field teaching scheme at Top Lodge in Northamptonshire has been awarded one of the first quality badges for learning outside the classroom.

The new government backed scheme (launched today) is for all organisations and venues providing learning outside the classroom experiences for children and young people in England.

The quality badge provides national recognition of the teaching and safety standards of organisations that provide out of classroom learning. It is the first time there has been an official, easily identifiable and trusted quality badge for outdoor learning providers. It’s also hoped it will give an assurance to those using such sites as to the quality of educational experiences on offer.

Top Lodge, at the Forestry Commission's Fineshade Woods in Northamptonshire, is a partnership between the RSPB and the Forestry Commission. Now in its third year, it offers an exciting programme of school visits designed to give pupils a wildlife experience to remember and a learning adventure that is fun as well as educational.


Andy Simpson, RSPB Head of Youth and Education, said: 'We are delighted to receive the learning outside the classroom quality badge. We’re celebrating even more because as part of the independent assessment process the quality of the learning, and health and safety at Top Lodge provided, was judged to be ‘Outstanding’.'

'The quality of the learning and health and safety at Top Lodge was judged to be ‘Outstanding’.'

The RSPB considers the provision of first hand experience of nature for young people as a priority. Out of classroom or ‘real world’ learning, has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of education. It broadens children’s outlook, improves their motivation and personal and inter-personal skills, and creates a sense of place and wonder for the world around them. It also helps keep children fit and healthy, physically and mentally. 

The RSPB has completed an internal review of all its sites to ensure its quality of learning and health and safety processes meet the high standards of the badge. Over the coming months, it will be putting forward all its sites in England for badging.

Andy added: 'We welcome the development of the new Quality Badge as a means of ensuring quality provision. We hope schools, teachers and parents will recognise and have confidence in the scheme, encouraging more visits and ensuring all children have the opportunity to experience first hand the natural world.'

The wonder of nature

The RSPB introduces 60,000 school children to the awe and wonder of nature through its field teaching scheme Living Classrooms every year. Living Classrooms is an exciting programme of school visits designed to bring learning to life.

At Top Lodge, typical activities include searching for minibeasts, dressing up as red kites, sweep netting meadows, learning about food chains and exploring woodland habitats. Click on the links to the right to find out more.

How you can help

The RSPB field teaching scheme, Living Classrooms, is an exciting programme of school visits designed to bring learning to life.

Bird guide

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