Department for Education and The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP Press Release: 1.5.2023
To mark the Coronation all state funded primary schools will be sent wildflower seeds that will empower children across the country to discover the joys of nature.
The government-funded project was inspired by His Majesty The King’s love of nature and aims to encourage children to learn about and improve the biodiversity of school’s green spaces, while making them nicer places to work and learn. Improving children’s connection to nature and spending time outdoors will also help to support their mental and physical wellbeing.
In a collaboration between the Department for Education and the Eden Project, over 200,000 seeds packets will be sent to schools, representing 40 hectares of new wildflower areas being planted up across England to support our pollinators. If planted together that would create around 40 rugby pitch sized wildflowers meadows – a small but vital step in boosting biodiversity.
To support schools to celebrate the Coronation, the Department for Education has also commissioned a series of lesson plans and other teaching materials for primary and secondary schools to explain the significance of this historical moment.
The charity Living Paintings has also designed, created and published a pack of tactile and audio resources that will enable blind and partially sighted children to learn about the Coronation, and the Eden Project has also created free lesson resources for schools and families to learn how to make eco-decorations for their Coronation celebrations using natural objects found in their surrounding green spaces.
Schools and other education providers can continue to improve biodiversity in the months and years to come through the National Education Nature Park – which brings together schools, colleges and other education settings into a vast virtual park. It enables children and young people to get involved in taking practical action to improve the biodiversity of their green spaces, then mapping it online to see over time how the virtual park changes. The National Education Nature Park and Climate Action Award are open for registration from 18 May 2023.
Schools minister Nick Gibb said:
“Giving children the opportunity to plant wildflowers will not only make school grounds more attractive, it will also help the next generation understand the importance of improving our biodiversity, while celebrating His Majesty The King’s love of nature.
To help young people understand the historical significance of the Coronation, we have also asked two history teachers and curriculum experts to produce lesson plans and other materials about the coronation and the history of the monarchy, which we are sending to schools.”
Dan James, Development Director for the Eden Project said:
“It is crucial that we replenish our biodiversity across the UK – and even small steps can make a difference.
Through the work of National Wildflower Centre, Eden Project works with organisations across the UK with projects to make new wildflower habitats that support wildlife and connect people to the natural world. This is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation to see the impact that wildflowers can have, even in small spaces.
By encouraging our children to plant wildflower seeds we can work towards reversing the decline of pollinators that we are seeing across the UK which is so important for our future.”
The packets of seeds include native annual wildflower species; cornflower, corn poppy, corn chamomile, corncockle, corn marigold and night-flowering catchfly, which if sown this spring, will be in bloom this summer.
The wildflowers will provide food for a wide range of insects including bees, butterflies and other pollinators in school grounds across England. Each seed packet covers around 2 square metres of blue, white, purple, red and yellow flowers that can be planted in pots, beds or borders to boost colour and biodiversity in school grounds across England.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has commissioned a film for primary school-aged children, explaining the history and significance of the Coronation. This can be played in classrooms or assemblies and gives children the opportunity to discover the history and importance of the Coronation, the role of His Majesty The King, and the significance of the Monarchy around the world.
The National Education Nature Park is just one of many initiatives in the DfE’s strategy for Sustainability and Climate Change that will provide learners with the resources to live, learn, work and participate in a contemporary global society.
Through climate education, green skills and careers, the department is helping to create a sustainable future through education, developing the skills needed for a green economy, and supporting our sectors to reach net zero targets.
The Eden Project will distribute the seeds to schools in the coming weeks along with guidance on where and how to plant them to support teachers and schools. Find out more on the Eden Project website.
The department’s strategy for sustainability and climate change has been informed by stakeholders and young people and sets out action to 2030 on: 1) climate education; 2) green skills and careers; 3) the education estate and digital infrastructure; 4) operations and supply chains, and; 5) international. This action will be evaluated and built on as new opportunities and evidence arise.
The strategy sets out new initiatives including extra support for teaching about nature and climate change, the introduction of a Natural History GCSE, a National Education Nature Park, Climate Leaders Award and support for education leaders to take a whole-setting approach to climate change.
Part of the Eden Project, the National Wildflower Centre uses wildflowers to bring biodiversity, delight and colour into the lives of communities across the UK. Wildflowers were once a significant part of the British landscape until WWII when huge amounts of meadow were ploughed for arable farming. The UK has lost 98% of its wildflower habitats since that time and today they account for less than 1% of the British countryside.
DfE commissioned Coronation teaching resources for schools.