Habitats

The Head's Study

There is no salve quite like nature for an anxious mind”
Richard Deverell, Director of Kew Gardens

Our weekend walk yesterday was the wettest and wildest in many weeks, reminding me that we have passed the Autumn equinox but also that this year’s weather has been unseasonably warm and potentially worrying.

With Libby Bowles of Sustainable Hive leading the Senior School Assembly this week on the theme of ‘Habitats’, I cannot help wondering what lessons from lockdown have we taken from the nature around us over this past year? As Covid-19 hit the UK we entered the loveliest spring in living memory. This was augmented by the power and balance that was returned to nature as humankind curtailed our usual chaotic and damaging lifestyles. We have worked hard to encapsulate lessons learnt from Guided Home Learning. We must work equally hard to look beyond the virtual classroom to hold on to actions that can both reduce our impact on the natural world and harness the benefits that being outside bring.

Next year the UK will be hosting the UN climate conference, the biggest global climate summit since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015. More than ever, we have the potential to influence worldwide change. An Ipsos MORI poll in July showed that 73% of voters across the country think that not tackling climate change and pollution will ‘harm future generations’. One of the incongruous benefits of the Covid lockdown has been proving to us quite how quickly we can improve this most menacing of all our environmental problems.

This month the GDST moves to renewable energy in all of its 25 schools. At Royal High, we will continue to review our consumption, our waste, our footprint.

Going back to my wet and wild weekend walk, I hope that we can all also hold on to the recuperative power of our habitat. We all know how much better we feel when we have been outside in nature, and mindful of the beauty and cycles of the season. A large body of evidence has shown how contact with the natural world reduces stress.

prep outdoor mushrooms

Recuperative power of our habitat

Another unexpectedly positive by-product of our Covid risk assessment has been the creation of year group outdoor zones. It has been joyous seeing and hearing girls enjoying their outdoor space between lessons and in lunchtimes. They return to their studies invigorated, alert and ready to learn. Just as we are encouraging our political parties to keep climate change on the agenda, let us ensure we lead by example, encouraging our children to be outside and to benefit from the healing power of nature.

Kate Reynolds, Head