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Belhaven Hill School Wins Scotland’s Biggest Nature Prize

Pupils and staff at Belhaven Hill School are celebrating winning the Youth & Education Award at the RSPB's Nature of Scotland Awards for conservation. The small boarding and day prep school in Dunbar, with only 127 pupils, was competing against far larger organisations as well as several schools. Outdoor education plays an important role in the school’s holistic approach to education.

The judges were impressed by both the number and variety of the projects. In fact, organisations like the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Edinburgh University and RSPB were keen to find out how the school had organised and executed its milk-bottle tree nursery, bird box production line and pallet bird hide.

The school’s conservation club has also worked with a number of sporting estates in East Lothian and Berwickshire to improve the habitat for gamebirds and threatened native species like the grey partridge.

"We are absolutely delighted to have won the RSPB's Youth and Education Award,” says Tom Rawson, Maths Teacher and Head of Conservation, who joined 250 conservationists, businessmen, politicians and landowners from across the UK for the awards dinner in Edinburgh.

“We are especially delighted that our children have received the recognition for their hard work and the inventive ideas that they richly deserve. We’ve accomplished all of our conservation projects without spending any money, other than purchasing some nails and paint!

“The school is extremely grateful to the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage for the award and also to organisations such as the Woodland Trust, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and Alba Trees who have helped and guided us to make each project so successful.

"Belhaven Hill School Conservation Club aims to improve the local environment as a haven for native wildlife through a programme of meaningful and educational conservation activities. In the last two years, children aged 7 – 13 have volunteered to build 85 bird boxes, clear 6 local beaches of marine litter and plant over 2,200 trees in the local community.

“They have also built a double-glazed bird hide and a tree nursery capable of producing 300 to 400 native trees from seed annually. The Club sees the integration of these activities with the school's academic curriculum as a key means of delivering both an enriched learning environment and the importance of living a healthy and environmentally responsible lifestyle."

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