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ICONS of the Environment - a teachers' resource

ICONS is encouraging teachers to help pupils explore the 'great outdoors'. What better place to start this winter, than by visiting the new ICONS of the Environment project on this site before venturing out?

ICONS invites teachers and pupils to get their hands muddy by venturing outside the classroom. Get some inspiration first by visiting the new ICONS of the Environment section and encouraging classes to nominate and vote on icons.  Explore some of our environmental icons online and then get ready to head out because learning in the 'outdoor classroom' proves to be one of the best ways for kids to learn about the environment.

One way to do it is to go on a field trip to places like the Epping Forest Field Centre. One group of pupils from North Bridge House School in Camden did just that and embarked on tracing the source of Loughton Brook while they were there.

"It's nice to get out of the classroom," said Geography student Piers, aged 13." It gives you a real taste of what rivers are about instead of learning about them off the white board."

Ruth Amos, researcher at the Institute of Education says that school outings boost academic achievement, and that some pupils she spoke with had never even seen animals in fields before. In the case of one school, she found that all the GCSE geography students who had been on residential study courses had done better than those who had not.

Assistant head of the Epping Forest Field Centre, Helen Robertson says: "You could do an A-Level in biology, followed by a degree, then get a job in an environmental centre never having been out in the field to do species identification, for example. There's a lot of theoretical learning, of course, but it's very different coming and doing it in a real life, hands-on situation."