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SEND students launch nationwide Big Butterfly Count at specialist school in Surrey

Students stood in a group

A group of students with special educational needs have helped launch this year’s nationwide Big Butterfly Count with an official event at Undershaw in Surrey.

This event marks the first day of the Big Butterfly Count, an annual UK-wide survey run by wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation, who are today urging the whole nation to help track and protect Britain’s butterflies by taking part in the Count.

The Big Butterfly Count is co-sponsored by The DFN Foundation, which is also a long-standing partner of Undershaw, an independent specialist SEND school providing a high standard of care and education for children aged 9 to 19 with learning difficulties and additional needs. 

During the launch event and under the guidance of the Butterfly Conservation team, the students discussed the amazing life cycles of butterflies and moths, learning all about the tricks and tactics they use to escape predation. They then practiced their ID skills by counting the different species in the school’s vibrant gardens.

Throughout the Big Butterfly Count, the British public is being asked to spend 15 minutes in any sunny spot and record the number and type of butterflies they see to help scientists discover the impact of last year’s record-breaking heatwave on local wildlife. The initiative has been endorsed and supported by celebrities such as Sir David Attenborough (President of Butterfly Conservation) who said: “A few precious moments spent watching a stunning Red Admiral or Peacock butterfly feeding amongst the flowers in my garden never fails to bring me great pleasure.” 

David Forbes Nixon OBE, Chairman of the DFN Foundation which sponsors the Big Butterfly Count, said:

“The DFN Foundation is thrilled to once again sponsor the much-anticipated Big Butterfly Count this year, supporting Butterfly Conservation in their crucial work protecting butterflies from extinction. I am delighted that Undershaw, an initiative of the DFN Foundation, will be taking a leading role in launching this year’s Big Butterfly Count. The school will host an action-packed event, educating pupils and the local community on the importance of biodiversity and conservation through the enchanting world of butterflies.

Dr Zoë Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation said:

“This is a vital year for the Big Butterfly Count. We know 80% of butterflies in the UK have declined since the 1970s. This means there are fewer butterflies to be seen than in years gone by. However, even if you don’t see any butterflies during your Count, we still want you to tell us! We need to know where there AREN’T any butterflies just as much as where there are, so please still log your result and then pick another day or location and try again. There are no limits on how many times you can take part.”

Last year almost 100,000 Counts took place up and down the country, with participants spending a combined 2.5 years counting butterflies in their gardens, local parks and in the countryside. The information gathered helps to inform conservation projects and government policies and supports other experts with their research and vital work to protect our planet.

David Forbes-Nixon added:

“Summer is a glorious time to enjoy the great outdoors in the UK, and so I encourage everyone to get involved with this year’s Big Butterfly Count, either with friends and family or set off on a solo adventure to enjoy a moment of calm and reconnect with nature. Not only will it make you feel good, but it will also be invaluable in helping to save species of butterflies and protect our environment for future generations to enjoy.”

The Big Butterfly Count is open to everyone, of any age, living in towns, cities or the countryside and is running from 14 July to 6 August across the UK. For more information and to participate, simply visit or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.

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