Kew curator Nigel Taylor slams lack of plant education

The curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Nigel Taylor, has said that Charles Darwin would "turn in his grave" if he knew how little today's teachers and children know about plants.

Taylor said Kew, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, would tackle ignorance of where food comes from and the good plants do for the environment through the launch of the Great Plant Hunt, which has been sent free-of-charge to all 23,000 UK state-funded primary schools.

He added: "Kew was founded in 1759 but we need Kew more than ever today. We're sending the Great Plant Hunt Darwin chest to all the state-funded primary schools in the UK, with the aim to reacquaint children with their nation's flora.

"We don't understand or connect with nature anymore in the way Darwin would have wanted our children to. Not many school teachers could identify what was on our nature tables when we were children. It's been found that most biology teachers can't identify more than three examples of British flora."

The Darwin treasure chest will feature "fun, games, activities and teaching resources to explore the natural world", all linked to the National Curriculum.

Taylor said the project was inspired by a year of celebrations to mark the 200th birthday of Darwin, a key figure in Kew's development, and the 250th anniversary of Kew.

The free resources are funded by medical charity Wellcome Trust.

Activities will take place in the classroom, online and outdoors.

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