We have recently been joining forces with an Oxfordshire-based wildlife trust to harness the power of nature to support our young people.

We have been working with Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to support our young people with complex autism to connect with nature as part of the nature charity’s Engaging with Nature Project.

The project is designed to support people’s mental wellness using a blend of nature therapy, horticultural therapy and expressive arts, with those taking part enjoying a wide range of activities.

Over the course of this 10-week project, around 20 of our young people here at Prior’s Court have been making bird feeders, going on nature walks, painting plant pots, and observing hedgehogs among other activities on our 52-acre site.

Wendy Moffatt, our Land-Based Learning Specialist, said:

This has been a superb project for our young people to be involved in and we are very grateful for Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust for reaching out to offer us the chance to take part. We have an extensive horticultural learning programme at Prior’s Court, with purpose-built facilities, so we’re very aware of the wide-reaching benefits that horticulture provides for our young people – from understanding how to care for plants to simply being outdoors in nature. This course has deepened our students and staff’s learning and engagement with nature. Our students have enjoyed building bird feeders, growing cress, looking for bugs and using homemade binoculars to recognise the different birds in our woods. The team from the wildlife trust have been fantastic working with our students and adapting the course to suit our students’ needs. It has been a great collaboration and I hope we can work with them again in the future.

Clare Hegerty, Engaging with Nature Project Assistant at BBOWT, which has a base at the Discovery Centre in Thatcham, said “Having the opportunity to organise the weekly sessions for the young people at Prior’s Court, supported by my colleague Jone and the amazing staff at the school, has been genuinely inspiring.

"In the past I’ve taught autistic children in traditional, manmade indoor spaces which can be overwhelming for many of them. Witnessing the positive impact that connecting with the slower pace of nature, together with the extra physical space had on the students at Prior’s Court proves how important that connection to nature is to every one of us.”

These sessions were held across site, including in our specialist horticultural provision.

Learn more about our specialist facilities