A NEW education centre giving pupils the chance to get to grips with nature has been opened at a Wickford school.

North Crescent Primary School, officially opened its new eco-centre yesterday, which children will use as an outside classroom to learn more about the environment.

The £400,000 development includes a shelter overlooking the school’s woodlands, with wireless internet access, a fully automatic weather station, a wind turbine, a planting area, bird box with a webcam and woodland observation post.

Headteacher Lisa Wright said it was a fantastic way of helping children have fun and learn at the same time.

She said: “The pupils are really excited about using the centre.

“The idea is to give children a deeper understanding of ecological issues, and get them involved in making the best use of our environment.

“If children are having a good time and are gaining first-hand experience of something the learning will naturally come out of it. It offers them the chance to take learning out of the textbook.”

First announced last year, the scheme was part of Essex County Council’s Pathfinder scheme, which saw £6.5million of investment injected into Wickford schools.

As part of the new centre launch, pupils were treated to a special science demonstration at an assembly.

The eco-centre was also opened after school hours, so parents had the chance to be shown round the new facilities.

The school will mainly use the centre to complement its science curriculum.

Mrs Wright said as well as the latest science gadgetry, the facility would also have other uses, including outdoor storytelling and creative writing sessions where youngsters can be inspired by nature.