Booking a Visit
It is important that you let us know using the contact form below when you are planning to visit as the nature reserve is small and can only accommodate one school group at a time. If you are planning to use the bird hides we need to know in advance so that we can inform bird watchers. We cannot guarantee the bird hides will be empty but if we inform our regular birdwatchers in advance they may avoid that day.
How many children can visit at a time?
The nature reserve covers a fairly small area. Also, while encouraging more groups and schools to visit we need to balance this with caring for our reserve. Therefore, we would suggest maximum groups of 20 children at a time. If a class of 30 is visiting it would be best to divide the children into two groups to explore the reserve.
The on-site facilities we offer
- Use of the village hall for a contribution of £10 for half a day/£15 all day, subject to availability. Toilet facilities including disabled toilet are available. The kitchen can be used for making hot or cold drinks and serving snacks. Children can eat their lunches in the hall in inclement weather. Bags and lunch boxes can be left in the hall while the group go for their visit to the nature reserve. The school may also consider making a donation towards the upkeep of the reserve (we spend several hundred pounds a year on bird feed alone). Details of how to make a donation to the nature reserve can be found here.
- We would expect groups to be self-sufficient in using the nature reserve. However, a volunteer from CVCG may be available to meet you at the nature reserve to provide a guided walk or visit to the bird hide.
- There are wheelchair and buggy accessible gates to the nature reserve. Paths are rough. We hope to raise funds to improve the paths in the near future.
- The hall is fully accessible including toilet facilities.
This education resource is designed to help you plan your visit but it is highly recommended that you visit beforehand. A volunteer from CVCG could arrange to show you the nature reserve and village hall facilities. Photographs taken a few days before children visit will help prepare them for what they might find, e.g. plants currently in flower.
The Countryside Code – Respect, Protect, Enjoy
It is important that all staff and volunteers are made aware of the Countryside Code before a visit to the nature reserve. Children can be introduced to the code in an age-appropriate way before they visit. View and download the Countryside Code leaflet.
Public Liability Insurance and Risk Assessments
Clara Vale Conservation Group is covered by Gateshead Council’s Public Liability insurance. This provides cover in relation to claims that may be received in relation to personal injury, property loss or damage where it is alleged that the claim has resulted due to the negligence of the group.
It is important that schools make their own risk assessment for their visit.
What to do in the Reserve – how will you use your time?
When planning a visit one of the things you will need to consider is how structured or focused your time at the nature reserve will be. This will depend on the age of the children and how much experience they have had of natural environments. You might:
- Be flexible and open ended so that you can respond to the natural environment on the day, depending on the wildlife, habitation and weather conditions;
- Have a more structured visit with planned activities for example a visit to a bird hide, a plant identification activity or a mini-beast hunt (see suggested activities for each key stage);
- Or you may choose a mix of both approaches with time to explore and one or two structured activities.
A visit might include:
- A walk along the paths, listening and looking and becoming aware of what lives and grows within the reserve:
- A scavenger hunt;
- A whole group gathering to share what they have seen and heard or to share a story or music;
- A visit to a bird hide;
- A creative activity – making a shared landed art or sculpture;
- A leaf gathering and bark rubbing activity.
Resource Baskets are available to borrow and include:
- Resources for placing and arranging found objects
- Wooden musical instruments
- Wooden clip boards, paper and chunky wooden pencils
- Baskets and cloth bags for collecting objects
- Stick adventure bag
- A selection of children’s books and soft toys for story telling
Baskets will need to be requested when the visit is booked.
Other resources to help prepare for a visit:
These websites will be useful when planning a visit:
Reference books to support teachers to plan activities:
- Environmental Arts online booklet produced by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE)
- The Stick Book; Nature’s playground; Go Wild; Make it Wild all by Fiona Danks and Jo Scolfield
- The Bumper Book of Nature by Stephen Moss
- Natural Simple Land Art Through the Seasons by Marc Pouyet.