The last academic year for Falconry for Schools was a very busy and successful one, with the project delivered to 26 schools. Owing to the popularity of the project and the interest shown from other schools, there is a current waiting list of approximately 30 schools desperately wanting the project to be delivered in their school. Two other falconry centres, one in County Durham and one in Shropshire are also eagerly waiting to receive their Falconry for schools kits and training and it is hoped that some schools in Wales and Norfolk will also experience the programme in 2015.
The project is also working with the ‘Artificial Nest Project in Mongolia School links Programme’, run by Nicola Dixon at International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. Schools that have gone through the Falconry for Schools project, are then introduced to the school links programme on falconry, which joins schools via the internet between the UK, Mongolia, UAE and USA. This is a fantastic extension to the F4S project. Dr Nicholas Fox OBE, has also shown his support for the F4S project and describes the project as ‘a chance for children to get up close to birds of prey’ and ‘a life changing experience that triggers an interest in the natural world’. He also describes the relevance to the school’s curriculum, ‘Maths – how much does a hawk weigh? History – how old is falconry? Geography – where did falconry start? Children that may have had difficulties at school can be transformed overnight’.
A teacher from a school that were lucky enough to have the birds visit them in 2014, also sent in a letter of support for the project, describing it as an ’excellent short course on falconry’ and ‘an exciting resource’. The school linked the experience to a history project about castles and medieval life and the visit was also relevant to the science work based around the book “The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark”, and adaptations necessary for hunting and catching their prey. By the end of the birds’ visit, the children were able to appreciate a little more the Red Kites hovering over their playing field.
There were also some nice letters of support from the most important critics, the children themselves:
‘Thank you for coming to our school and showing us the birds. It was a real privilege because you don’t get to do that everyday’.
‘Judith Wrighte doesn’t just let you do all this amazing stuff, she has also encouraged us to go to (falconry) clubs and maybe even think of our career’.
‘The falconry for schools project is an amazing project which teaches younger children about falcons and is an outstanding life experience’.
‘This life changing falconry for schools project is both inspiring and educational as well as being extremely fun and interesting’.
All the above quotes are from year 6 pupils, Robins class, Mill Hill Primary School, Waterlooville, who were visited by the birds in November 2014.