Pupils meet ‘minibeasts’ at Drax nature reserve during first school visit since Covid started

Renewable energy pioneer Drax has reopened a vital educational facility within its nature reserve, enabling educational activities for schools to restart following its closure due to the Covid pandemic.

Drax reaffirmed its commitment to STEM education when the Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve opened its doors for the first time in more than 18 months to pupils from Camblesforth Community Primary Academy.

The Key Stage One students were the first group through the doors since the pandemic started, with children learning all about wildlife in a ‘minibeasts’ themed activity day at the nature reserve which is located near Drax Power Station – the UK’s biggest renewable power generator.

Camblesforth Community Primary Academy children taking part in the pond dipping activity

The students took part in pond dipping, created a bug hotel and hunted for insects and other ‘minibeasts’ in the woods before finishing off the day by toasting marshmallows on a fire.

For some of these year one and two primary pupils, it was the first school outing they have had the opportunity to go on due to long periods of learning from home during the pandemic.

Gywneth Beaumont, Teacher at Camblesforth Community Primary Academy said:

“Our pupils had a great time at the Skylark centre. The sessions were well planned and resourced, and the children had a lot of fun while also learning so much in just one day. They especially loved having marshmallows round the fire at the end. The staff were amazing and looked after not only the children but the adults as well. We will definitely be returning.”

Drax Group Head of Sustainable Business Alan Knight added:

“We’re so pleased to be able to welcome young people to our Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve for educational visits again.

“We work closely with schools in our communities to inspire children to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Getting out of the classroom to explore nature is an important part of that. We hope that experiences like these will spark an interest in learning about the natural world around us.”

The Skylark Centre has recently upgraded its learning resources to ensure that the activities on offer support the national curriculum with a particular focus on science and geography.

The centre has achieved national recognition for its educational visits and has been awarded a Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Quality Badge, endorsed by the Department for Education.

Dr Anne Hunt, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom said:

“Educational visits are among the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life.  The LOtC Quality Badge offers teachers a guarantee that the venue is providing high quality educational experiences and have the appropriate risk management structures in place, meaning less paperwork for schools and peace of mind for teachers. I congratulate the Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve on being awarded the LOtC Quality Badge.”

Skye Richard, age 5, from Camblesforth Community Primary Academy

Schools planning a visit to the nature reserve can choose from educational activities centred around plants or insects or a combination of the two, with all the learning materials able to be adapted to suit any primary school age group. The group can then choose an ‘outdoor adventure activity’ to add onto the end of their visit such as den building, orienteering and team building games.

The Visitor Centre Team are continuing to follow government guidance and take all the necessary precautions against Covid-19 to ensure that the Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve is a safe environment for those who visit.

Drax is committed to supporting STEM education and while in-person visits to the power station had to stop throughout the covid-19 pandemic the company has continued to offer educational resources including virtual tours and work experience. Drax hopes to resume school visits to site early next year.


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Megan Hopgood
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Editor’s Notes

The Nature Reserve owned by Drax is open to members of the public and offers a wide variety of educational experiences for schoolchildren to learn about nature and ecology as part of the national curriculum. The Skylark Centre, located on site, is equipped with classroom facilities to give students a full hands-on experience of the local environment. Find out more about visiting the Skylark Centre and Nature Reserve here.

About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology.

Its 3,400 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

Pellet production and supply:

Drax owns and has interests in 17 pellet mills in the US South and Western Canada which have the capacity to manufacture 4.9 million tonnes of compressed wood pellets (biomass) a year. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet mills supply around 30% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.


Drax is the largest supplier of renewable electricity to UK businesses, supplying 100% renewable electricity as standard to more than 370,000 sites through Drax and Opus Energy.

It offers a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com