Pupils at Swinton Primary School had a series of Scottish wildlife lessons this week on a double-decker education bus currently touring Scotland.
The ‘Wild about Scotland’ bus has been visiting schools in the Borders as part of a wider campaign being brought to all of Scotland’s 32 local councils over the next year.
The programme has been developed by the Royal Zoological Society for Scotland (RZSS) and has been made possible through a partnership between Clydesdale Bank and the RZSS to support the charity in its conservation goals across Scotland.
Pupils from Swinton had the chance to get hands-on in a variety of interactive and fun lessons which focused on Scotland’s native species, their habitats and environments.
Lessons were delivered by a dedicated education team from RZSS.
‘Wild about Scotland’ aims to engage a younger generation with Scotland’s wildlife – not just in forests or wild areas of Scotland, but also in their own back gardens. The lessons on the bus covered ‘minibeasts’, the huge variety of insects and bugs that can be found everywhere we look, as well as what might be considered more exotic animals.
These included the Scottish wild cat, which is in desperate need of conservation, and beavers, which sparked a debate on the effects of reintroducing such species into an ecosystem.
Chris West, CEO of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “Conservation through education is one of the founding principles behind the Society and remains one of our key goals to this day.
“We believe connecting young people in the Duns area to the natural world is vital and the ‘Wild about Scotland’ outreach programme will further add to the curriculum-based learning delivered each year by the Society.”
He continued: “Importantly, now more than ever, preserving and learning about the huge variety of wildlife living in Scotland, and how children may help make a difference in the conservation of that wildlife, is of huge worth.”
Helen Page, Customer Experience, Products and Marketing Director at Clydesdale Bank said:
“RZSS makes a vital contribution to the conservation of Scotland’s wildlife, both through direct preservation and its commitment to educating the public on endangered species, habitats and ecosystems. We’re proud to be joining forces with them to help deliver this educational programme to primary schools in Scottish Borders.
“Our support will enable them to bring the ‘Wild about Scotland’ programme to young people not only in Swinton, but to communities across Scotland that may not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with expertise from RZSS on Scottish conservation.”
The corporate partnership with Clydesdale Bank is the biggest in RZSS’s history and includes significant support. As well as funding the overhaul of the bus, the partnership is helping support the delivery of the programme by the RZSS outreach education team as it travels across Scotland to as many schools as possible.
The customised double-decker has been transformed from a Stagecoach passenger bus into a fully functional and interactive mobile classroom with capacity to accommodate up to 26 children at once.