Environmental Education – What we Offer

About Visiting the Ecology Centre with your School or Group

Picture of a boy having fun running through the woodland.

 

The Holland Park Ecology Centre is a purpose-built environmental education centre providing a range of outdoor nature-based sessions suitable for groups of all ages. Sessions are led by our education team, all of whom are experienced environmental educators and level 3 Forest School leaders. They also all hold outdoor first aid certificates and enhanced DBS checks. 

We offer two-hour long environmental education workshops; Forest School programmes; workshops for children or young people with SEND; and self-led sessions. 

 

Environmental Education sessions 

Environmental education sessions are curriculum-linked for groups for early years and upwards, and typically start in the Ecology Centre with an interactive introductory talk explaining the topic and outlining the objectives. This is followed by time in the Wildlife Area exploring and learning outdoors and ends with a brief plenary. Environmental education sessions cover a diverse range of topics, with natural exploration including minibeast hunts, pond dipping, tree studies, edible plants and seasonal change. They also include natural art workshops. Sessions are for groups of up to 30 children at a time with accompanying adults. For more information, including a full listing of our sessions, please see the Environmental Education visits page.

Arranging your visit 

After a request has been received, we will email you to confirm the date, timings and details of your booking. A formal confirmation email will then be sent containing our risk assessment, health and safety procedure, and teacher notes. The group leader should read and agree this information before their visit to the Ecology Centre.  

Group leaders who have not visited the Ecology Centre before are requested to book a pre-visit to familiarise themselves with its facilities and the site, and to discuss the needs of the group and any logistics. 

Preparing for your visit 

Please ensure that you have read our risk assessment and shared it with any other group leaders. Please check with all participants (including accompanying adults) for any allergies  (such as wasp or bee stings, nuts, ivy).

Do check the weather forecast but be prepared for wet conditions. 

Recommended clothing and sundries:

  • Spring: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs
  • Summer: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, trousers/covered legs, sunhat, sun cream, water bottle
  • Autumn: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs
  • Winter: waterproof and warm jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs, hat, gloves

We will run the session in all weathers unless conditions are deemed hazardous (electrical storms or storm force winds). In cases of heavy rain, we may amend the session to spend less time outside or avoid more exposed areas.  

Please refer to the Teacher Notes for ideas of activities for your group prior to their visit 

On the day of your visit 

The visit will start at the Ecology Centre and we recommend that the group are given the opportunity to use the toilets before the session starts. Most sessions start with an interactive introductory talk in our classroom, often making use of our collection of stuffed and model animals, and demonstrating any equipment to be used during the session. We will then take the group outside, either for nature exploration activities in the Wildlife Area, plant studies using the park’s floral collection or into the Edible Teaching Garden to discover the various plants growing there. We will outline any health and safety issues relating to the outdoor activities. 

During the session the group leader(s) take overall responsibility for the behaviour and welfare of the group. The Ecology Centre staff will ensure the safety of the group and take regular headcounts. The full roles and responsibilities are outlined in the Educational Visit Health and Safety Procedure.

After the completion of the outdoor activities we will return to the Ecology Centre for a brief plenary and to wash hands. 

After your visit 

At the end of your visit we will ask the group leader to complete an evaluation form. 

We have ideas for follow-up activities in the Teacher Notes sent with your confirmation email. 

The Ecology Centre has Twitter and Facebook accounts and we always appreciate it when groups mention us when posting about their visits. 

Payment 

Groups will be invoiced for their visit. Please note that we cannot accept cash payment on the day.  

 

Forest School sessions 

Forest School sessions involve a variety of nature-based activities with time for free play and exploration and take place in the Wildlife Area, a fenced woodland enclosure. Our Forest School programme consists of six weekly two-hour sessions, usually within a half term period. We can also provide one-off taster sessions for groups to gain an experience of Forest School. We can cater for preschool to secondary groups and accommodate two groups of up to 20 children concurrently.  

For more information go to our Forest School page.

Arranging your Forest School sessions 

After a request has been received, we will email you to confirm the dates, timings and details of your booking. A formal confirmation email will then be sent with our Forest School Handbook which details how the programme works, outlines the roles and responsibilities, covers health and safety procedures and contains risk assessments for the various activities. The group leader should read and agree this information before the start of their Forest School sessions.  

Group leaders who have not attended our Forest School sessions before are requested to book a pre-visit to familiarise themselves the site, and to discuss the needs of the group and any logistics including arranging the meeting point. 

The meeting point will depend on how the group is getting to the park and if it is decided that they should use the toilets before the start of the session. 

Preparing for your session 

Please ensure that you have read the Forest School Handbook and shared it with any other group leaders. Please check with all participants (including accompanying adults) for any allergies that we should be noted of (such as wasp or bee stings, nuts, ivy). Do check the weather forecast but be prepared for wet conditions. 

Recommended clothing and sundries:

  • Spring: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs
  • Summer: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, trousers/covered legs, sunhat, sun cream, water bottle
  • Autumn: waterproof jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs
  • Winter: waterproof and warm jacket, sturdy footwear, long sleeved top, trousers/covered legs, hat, gloves

We will run the session in all weathers unless conditions are deemed hazardous (electrical storms or storm force winds). When rain is predicted we erect a tarpaulin shelter over the sitting circle and in cases of heavy rain we may amend the session to spend less time outside or avoid more exposed areas.  

On the day of your session 

We will meet the group at the predesignated meeting point. We will then take the group to the Wildlife Area and stop on the way to outline any health and safety issues relating to the outdoor activities. 

The session will start in the Forest School sitting circle followed by an activity to help the group familiarise themselves with the site and its boundaries. We will then run the session with a range of activities often relating to an overall theme but with a flexible and child-centred learning approach. There will be time for independent exploration and play. 

We end back in the sitting circle with the group reflecting on the session.  

During the session the group leader(s) take overall responsibility for the behaviour and welfare of the group. The Ecology Centre staff will ensure the safety of the group and take regular headcounts. The full roles and responsibilities are outlined in the Forest School Handbook. 

After the completion of the outdoor activities we will return with the group to the meeting point, going via the Ecology Centre to wash hands if necessary. 

After your visit 

At the end of your Forest School programme we will send the group leader an evaluation form to complete.  

The Ecology Centre has Twitter and Facebook accounts and we always appreciate it when groups mention us when posting about their visits. 

Payment 

Groups will be invoiced in advance for their Forest School sessions.  

 

SEND sessions 

We welcome groups with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and will work with you to meet your requirements. Outdoor activities are often of particular benefit to groups with SEND, and we will ensure our Forest School or environmental education sessions are accessible for your group. For more information go to our SEND Group Visits page.

Self-led sessions 

In addition to sessions led by our education team, in some circumstances groups may book self-led sessions with or without an introductory talk. Self-led sessions are provided with the required equipment and access to the Wildlife Area or an alternative area as necessary. Self-led visits may be environmental education or Forest School type sessions and require that the staff leading the session have an on-site induction prior to the visit.  

Bookings

Contact us on the below to make a booking.

Email: Ecology.centre@rbkc.gov.uk

Phone: 020 7938 8186

The Ecology Centre accepts bookings from school groups both within Kensington and Chelsea, the surrounding boroughs and beyond. We also take bookings from informal groups including home education groups and community groups including third age and scouting organisations. If we do not offer a session that meets your needs, we are happy to discuss a creating a bespoke session for your school or other group. 

Pre-visit 

The leader for any group visiting the Ecology Centre for the first time is required to attend a pre-visit. These 45-minute meetings are an opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with the Ecology Centre and its facilities and to discuss the needs of your group and logistics for your visit. 

Outside spaces used for education 

  • The Wildlife Area is a secure fenced area of mature woodland with access to a pond and grasslands. 
  • The Edible Teaching Garden is attached to the Ecology Centre and contains an array of edible plants to explore and learn about food provenance. 
  • The West Woodland is an area of accessible woodland. 
  • Holland Park provides opportunities to discover a range of tree species and flowering plants.  

We are a holder of the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge.