About the organisation
The Conservation Volunteers is an environmental charity which has been working for 60 years to connect people with nature for the benefit of both. The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) works in partnership with people and communities to create healthier and happier communities for everyone – our activities have a lasting impact on people’s health, prospects and outdoor places.
TCV Scotland believes that looking after green spaces isn’t just about caring for nature – its about caring for people as well. We know from our own experience that getting involved in environmental projects can inspire young people to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.
TCV can support staff in schools to deliver Experiences and Outcomes, encouraging pupils to be creative, engaged and enthusiastic about their learning. Our Outdoor activities help to raise attainment in core areas of Literacy, Numeracy, Health and Wellbeing.
TCV Scotland believes that every child and young person should have the opportunity to participate in regular, sustained and inspiring outdoor learning and play.
Why Choose TCV?
TCV will help focus on raising attainment and achievement with the most vulnerable of children/young people through inclusion and equity of access to quality learning and teaching. Evidence highlights that securing pupils’ interest and engagement with learning through outdoor approaches has a part to play in raising attainment. TCV’s outdoor learning programmes have reaching and positive outcomes for pupils and teachers including: improved relationships, behaviour and attendance; enhanced health and wellbeing; enjoyment and engagement in learning.
Inclusion and Equity
TCV’s Outdoor Learning programmes are designed to be inclusive and accessible to all. Our Outdoor Learning sessions are designed to be effective with many pupils who have additional educational needs and can support young people in alternative provision settings to widen their educational opportunities.
Health and Wellbeing
The Green Gym promotes the health and wellbeing of children and young people by engaging them in practical conservation tasks. TCV Green Gyms have been proven to improve fitness levels, concentration levels, mental and physical health and self-confidence. Promoting the health and wellbeing of pupils and students within schools and colleges, Green Gym has the potential to improve their educational outcomes and their health and wellbeing outcomes.
Literacy and Numeracy
Being outside in the real world helps children build up knowledge about their local environment. Without real world experiences, children can struggle to make sense of words and pictures in written texts. TCV learning sessions take outside in school grounds and local greenspace, encouraging an interest in the natural world. We help children and young people to observe and talk about what they see, and to find answers to questions they may have.
Employability Skills and Preparing for the World of Work
We deliver a wide range of learning and skills through programmes of non-accredited and accredited training courses. Involvement in TCV activities can help young people to develop and practice core skills for life, learning and work. It can provide positive, real life examples and experiences where skills such as problem solving, decision making, communication and team workings are cultivated. TCV Scotland provides “green classrooms” that offer new opportunities for the young people we engage, particularly those who have struggled to gain the confidence and skills needed for the employment market through formal classroom-based education.
Offers/Enterprising activity in schools:
Children and young people can get involved with collecting environmental data to protect and improve our environment. Citizen Science is much more than science. It’s fun, it promotes a healthy, more active lifestyle and it delivers lifelong skills. Citizen Science is interdisciplinary, fits with existing curriculum subjects, encourages citizenship and meets requirements for outdoor learning.
We can support schools to get involved with carrying out a number of national surveys and collecting data to learn more about the state of their environment including:
- Water – River water quality via pond dipping, pollution and flooding.
- Air – Measuring air quality, (OPAL air quality survey)
- Biodiversity – Bug, plant and bird surveys
- Soils – OPAL soil and earthworm survey
- Climate – Weather and climate change surveys
Outline of the session: Introduction to Citizen Science carrying out a number of wildlife and OPAL surveys depending on the time of year, and either in school grounds or local greenspace. Pupils will use a variety of equipment and resources including identification charts, microscopes, hand lenses, bug jars and nets. Variety of surveys, sampling, collecting data, classification of living things, using keys, nature hunts, wildlife walk, plant and animal identification, games and observe living things.
TCV School Green Gym:
Promotes the health and wellbeing of children and young people by engaging them in practical conservation tasks in school grounds or local greenspace. TCV Green Gyms have been proven to improve fitness levels, mental and physical health and self–confidence.
Suitable for pupils aged 7 years and above. Practical activities can include: gardening, pruning, using hand tools, tree planting, team building, health walks, creating wildlife areas and making bug homes.
The Green Gym is a flexible programme and can be tailored to suit the school, taking into consideration the school grounds and local green spaces
We can also support teachers to take part in training, so they are able to deliver the Green Gym themselves.
Outline of the session:
- Introduction to the activity and the reasons for doing it.
- Introducing the tools, what they are used for, how to use, carry and store them safely.
- Green Gym warm-up exercises.
- Practical activity. The children/young people will be split up into small groups and help with specific tasks.
- Each group will get the chance to try every activity.
- Green Gym cool down exercises.
- An optimum group size of 8 children/young people per session.
TCV School Grounds Development:
Aims to develop school grounds into interactive, fun and learning environments where children can explore, gain new skills and improve their confidence.
TCV can provide support to teachers with ideas, opportunities, inspiration, planning & design, accessing funding, resources and physical construction of developing the grounds for play, biodiversity, health and wellbeing and community use.
Previous TCV school projects: Plastic bottle greenhouses, orchards, raised beds, wildlife areas, willow structures, seating, paths, tree planting, pizza gardens, bog gardens, outdoor classrooms, bird feeding stations, meadows, sensory gardens and wildlife hotels.
TCV are promoting food growing in schools and ‘Pizza Gardens’. Children love pizzas and an easy way to get them to love gardening is by growing a pizza garden. It’s a great way to get children outdoors and motivated to plant and eat vegetables.
TCV “Rewild the Child” Programme:
Rewild the Child is all about connecting and inspiring families with the outdoors and their local environment. These are outdoor play sessions which will equip parents/families with the skills and confidence to take their children outside to explore natural spaces and enable their children to play outside more. Sessions are either open to the public or organised for a specific group such as a nursery, primary school or youth group. There are no age limits, but activities are usually best suited for children between 3 and 12 years. While the children get a chance to explore, try new things, learn about nature and get some physical exercise, the sessions provide adults with ideas and the confidence to take their children outside to play. An experienced play leader will run the session, but children are supervised by parents/guardians throughout.
Outline of the session:
- Offer opportunities for children to try new things and gain new experiences as well as provide a range of flexible activities to suit the interests and abilities of the children.
- help children learn about nature and their local natural heritage.
- Learn about living creatures, senses, storytelling, arts & crafts, natural materials, outdoor cooking, den building, seasons and life cycles.
Most of the activities can be adapted to different ages and abilities. We aim to give you some ideas and confidence to provide outdoor play experiences to children, young people and their families. Active and creative outdoor play has been proven to be beneficial for the development of children’s physical, cognitive and social skills.
The programme also aims to link in with health initiatives in primary schools including the Active School Scheme. This will demonstrate to children that exercise doesn’t necessarily need to be playing organised sports and there is a multitude of enjoyable ways to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.
TCV Accredited Environmental Employability Programmes
These accredited programmes are delivered outdoors with environmental conservation as the main focus of hands on practical activity. We offer a range of short and long term accredited environmental employability programmes for people aged 16 and over, regardless of level of experience, disability or background. We are a registered centre with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and we can also incorporate the John Muir Award, HSE and Lanta accredited training into all of our programmes.
If you are supporting people who are looking to increase their skills and confidence to gain employment, our accredited learning programmes would be of a valuable addition to their CV as 90% of our ‘graduates’ go onto employment, volunteering or further education. We are experienced at supporting vulnerable individuals to gain accredited learning as these programmes involve fun, practical nature-based activities with minimal classroom and writing time.
Employability in the Outdoors Award (SCQF 4)
TCV Scotland’s Employability in the Outdoors Award is unique as it is an outdoor-delivered introduction to the world of work for those who have low confidence/skills and are unsure about how to gain and sustain employment. Training is delivered over five themed days and additional units in Work Experience and Enterprise can be added to the award. Timing for delivery of the award is flexible e.g. five consecutive days or one day a week over five weeks.
The outdoor setting, (e.g. park, greenspace or garden) allows participants to gain a range of practical skills such as raised bed building, tree planting, woodland management and habitat creation.
Land based Environmental Employability Programme SCQF level 3 and 4
This programme is a 13-week accredited award which provides work experience and employability training using a range of environmental activities (e.g. Landscaping, horticulture, heritage conservation) at a range of local greenspaces. The programme is aimed at stage 3 (vocational training) clients of all ages. Delivered over five days each week, the trainees will complete 3900 hours per programme to gain 10 accredited SQA units. TCV works with Local Authority Employability Services, schools and colleges to develop clear referral routes.
TCV CPD Training:
We deliver Continuing Professional Development training for teachers and Early Years professionals either in your own location or at one of TCV Scotland’s training venues.
Current courses include: School Green Gym Training, funding, making the most of your school grounds, food growing, nature play, Citizen Science, foraging, bush craft, forest skills, leadership, invertebrates, loose parts and environmental games.
CPD Training can be tailored to the needs and focus of the school. We also offer bespoke outdoor training to schools which focus on building a toolbox of creative ideas for engaging children/young people in outdoor learning and aligning to existing indoor projects or subjects and the Curriculum for Excellence.
“My Primary 4/3 class enjoyed a great morning with Kirsty from The Conservation Volunteers. Despite miserable weather she put together an activity packed hour and a half where we learned so much about our immediate environment and local nature. The children were engaged, educated and interested throughout, Kirsty had an excellent way with them and they are already asking me when we can have her back in to do more Outdoor Learning. An excellent resource and service.” – Teacher, Miltonbank Primary School
“Overall the Green Gym has been an excellent opportunity for us all to learn new skills and for the children to develop their physical and mental wellbeing. During their time in the local park the children enjoyed helping the local community by taking part in litter picking on a number of occasions.” – Teacher, Gadburn School
“TCV has done an excellent job in helping our young people develop their conservation, wildlife and environmental skills in an exciting way – and there’s no better way to learn than by getting hands on! We now have eight new Green Gyms in the area and I look forward to seeing how these grow and develop in the years ahead, as our green-fingered gurus turn them into something truly special opportunities such as this help deliver on the developing young workforce agenda, with pupils learning new skills and gaining confidence. Research has shown health benefits associated with connections to natural spaces can really impact on pupils’ abilities to concentrate, engage and retain learning concepts.” – Councillor, East Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning.
“Staff now have a yearly outdoor learning planner, detailing opportunities for their classes to get outside into the garden and local area. Most staff are saying that they feel more confident and will be using outdoor learning to meet numeracy, literacy and health and well-being CfE outcomes. Our Science topics are much more interdisciplinary now, with opportunities for outdoor learning being highlighted in forward plans and along with the continued support TCV/Citizen Science, St Mary’s will be taking outdoor learning forward, embedding it into school life, our teaching and the children’s learning.” – Teacher, St. Mary’s primary School.
“I hated going to school, I hardly turned up over 4 years. I ended up in care for 6 months but I came here every day because I’m outdoors and doing something I like.” – Employability Award Participant