Birds in Schools, BirdLife’s free online education program, is supporting teachers across Australia to deliver education and conservation action for birds

The events of 2020 saw Birds in Schools, like many programs, move online. Birds in Backyards launched our e-learning platform, with lessons and materials beautifully redesigned and adapted for the online platform in the last term of the year. While the move to the online space was spurred by Covid-19 restrictions, we could not be happier that we can now connect with schools across the country in our program. In fact, students across Victoria, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Western Australia, and Tasmania have all joined us for Birds in Schools. We are hoping to reach the ACT, Queensland and SA in Terms 3 and 4!

Since its online launch Birds in Schools has engaged hundreds of students in learning about and acting for birds at their schools. The program provides resources and support to guide teachers and students to become citizen scientists and investigate and act on local real-life sustainability challenges. Students have researched local bird species, carried out bird and habitat surveys, and developed and implemented action plans to make their school more bird friendly. Students also connected with live online lessons with Birds in Schools Project Officer Alex Johnson, and entered their bird survey results into Birdata, BirdLife’s survey database, so that their data contributes to BirdLife’s research and conservation efforts.

Currently in its third term of delivery online, BirdLife’s Birds in Schools program is possible because of the dedication of our participating teachers. We have classroom teachers, specialist science, sustainability, STEM and garden teachers involved in the program. These teachers are passionate about giving students real-life science experiences and getting their students out into nature to discover our wildlife, and of course, they are passionate about birds! All teachers participate in our professional development workshops to upskill in areas including bird identification, conducting surveys, using Birdata and what actions help birds and are our Birds in Schools experts on the ground.

As a result of participating in Birds in Schools, teachers have reported that students have increased interest in and knowledge about birds and their habitats. Students have engaged enthusiastically in the lessons, bird watch during their breaks and monitor the school nests and nest boxes. Schools have developed and carried out inspiring actions to improve bird habitat and education at their schools. Many have planted native plants or native gardens, some liaising with local councils, Landcare, and other environmental groups to achieve this. Other schools have built and installed nest boxes, added bird baths, created bird guides, and participated in bird photography projects. Several schools have participated in the online Birds in Schools program after being involved in previous years’ programs and have been able to further build their school’s bird-friendly credentials.

We love it when Birds in Schools can connect with other programs too. Last year, Kristy Peters, NSW Woodland Birds Project Officer, presented Regent Honeyeater-focused lessons to schools participating within Key Biodiversity Areas. Belyuen School’s action involved students finding and identifying birds and learning their names in local languages during culture lessons with local Indigenous elders. The students at Glenbrook Public School produced detailed scientific reports summarising their learnings from Birds in Schools. This term Deer Park North Primary School are combining Birds in Schools with the Creative Worker in Schools Program to engage students in a blended art and science project. A number of schools are also lucky enough to have local BirdLife volunteers visit them to assist with lessons and bird surveys.

In just three school terms, the schools of Birds in Schools have achieved so much! We can’t wait to hear more about our Birds in Schools participants’ experiences and achievements as they work through the program and their action planning and delivery to make their schools more bird-friendly! If you think Birds in Schools would be a great fit for your school, or you have any questions about the program, we are now taking registrations for Terms 3 and 4 so please get in touch with Alex at alexandra.johnson@birdlife.org.au

 
About Birds in Schools

Birds in Schools is a free education program designed by BirdLife Australia and it's Urban Birds Program. Available for free through BirdLife’s e-learning platform, Birds in Schools consists of a curriculum-aligned unit containing lesson plans for 10 lessons, accompanying resources, and support from BirdLife staff, including online teacher professional development. Lessons and resources are provided for primary school students at Levels 3-6 / Stage 2 and 3. Students learn about birds in their local area, conduct and analyse bird and habitat surveys, make recommendations based on their research, and develop and implement action plans to improve habitat for and attitudes to birds. Action plans may include planting native plants, installing nest boxes or bird baths, or delivering education campaigns in their school or local neighbourhood.

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