Lizard encounters as school helps team of scientists

Pupils from Bury School have helped a university research team
Pupils from Bury School have helped a university research team

Pupils from Bury School have been enjoying some extra animal encounters as the school played host to a team studying lizards.

Bury has its own group of the introduced wall lizard and scientists, a team from the University of Leeds were looking for a base for a study into the effects of the introduced wall lizard to the native sand lizard.

The team – Joel Dixon and Rob Williams – approached the school following feedback about how keen the pupils were to learn about the local area and how best to support it.

Head teacher at Bury School Thomas Moore said: “We are privileged to be based in a very special location at the foot of Bignor and Bury Hill, hidden away between Pulborough and Arundel and we strive to use this location to enhance the learning opportunities we can offer our children. When we were approached by the researchers this was too good an opportunity to miss, a chance for the children to be involved in some real science.

“We ensured everything was in order to ensure the safeguarding of our children and the scientists and then the research began.

“Joel introduced the lizards to the children and shared with them what he was doing.

“We also took advantage of having these two herpetologists on site by getting them involved in pond dipping with the children – I am still not sure who was more excited at finding the Great Diving Beetle.

“It meant giving up my weekends to allow them on site but all worth it for the children to get involved in real science, getting to work with the scientists and realising it is not just a job for people who enjoy wearing white coats, but also for those who make a difference to the world and help to protect our native flora and fauna.”

The scientists stayed with the school for a few weeks before heading back up north to write up their findings.

Joel added: “The combination of practical wildlife project engagement and opportunity to discuss conservation issues here at Bury School is building both an interest in ecology and conservation. There is a sense of a conservation minded community of pupils and teachers, and it is encouraging that pupils are discussing conservation.”