Why the countryside is a vote winner with parents

28th November 2019

One of our priorities for the next government is improving access to green spaces for everyone – and we’ve just found that 96% of parents think it’s important for children to experience green spaces first-hand and spend time in the natural world.

Children and woman pond dipping

Our survey of 2,000 parents, carried out by OnePoll, reveals that:

  • 85% of parents in England think that every schoolchild should be able to experience the countryside first-hand as part of the national curriculum
  • 96% think it is important for children to spend time in the natural world, including the countryside (with 69% saying this is very important and 27% saying it is quite important)

The top five reasons cited by parents for why children should spend time in nature were:

  1. Boost physical health (74%)
  2. Learn more about nature and science (74%)
  3. Boost their mental health (70%)
  4. Experience the thrill of observing wildlife first-hand (65%)
  5. Understand why we should protect the countryside (64%)

Their views chime with those of author and co-founder of Farms for City Children Michael Morpurgo who wrote to The Times to support our call for every schoolchild to have an opportunity to spend time in the countryside. He wrote: ‘After close on 45 years of witnessing first-hand the immense benefits to children of spending time in the countryside, the huge benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing,

‘I have no doubt that the only way we can all become truly connected to nature and the world about us is to get to walk in it, work in it, be in it. Only that way can we come to love it, feel it is ours to look after, that it matters.

‘It should absolutely be part of every child’s life to walk the fields and forests, stomp through leaves, up hills, through rivers, to see buzzards floating high and mewing, to glimpse a fish jumping, to feel wind and cold, to see a sheep give birth, a cow give milk, to plant potatoes, dig potatoes, to look up on a dark night and see the stars, to hear silence. How good is that for us, to know that this world is beautiful and that we are part of it.’