The first year of the Water, Mills and Marshes project is nearing an end and we’ve certainly hit the ground running. We engaged with 13 Primary Schools, 2 High Schools and 1 Sixth Form College in the Lowefstoft area working with a total of 761 students and 44 teaching staff.
For 12 Primary Schools we rolled out our Core Package:
An hour Road Show. This is our introduction for the students to the heritage, landscape and wildlife of the Broads National Park. It achieved a 97% approval rating from teaching staff via our feedback forms.
An Experience Day. This lasts a full school day with a 90 minute boat trip from Oulton Broad and the rest of the day spent at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve. On the boat trip the pupils get to float through the magic of the broads and for 20% of them this was their first time on a boat. Excercises related to the wildlife, infrastructure and habitats kept them busy during their trip. At the Nature reserve, 32% had never been to one before, activities included dyke dipping, mammal identification, carr woodland and reedbed exploration and a discussion around how to balance human needs with those of nature.
“This is a priceless experience that exceeds any data spreadsheet – the excitement and anticipation pre-trip to seeing their exhausted faces on return and hearing the buzz of chat about the highlights of their day. My grateful and sincere thanks.”Dell Primary School
A Broads in a Box Project Day. This whole school day brings together what the students have learnt during the Road Show and Experience Day, challenging them to work in teams to produce a model of the Broads National Park that is a balance between conservation and public access. Working in groups, pupils need to decide what will go on their model. Firstly, they choose the habitats and number of windmills they would like – these are worth points. The points are then converted into money which become the budget they use to buy the man made items, such as houses, roads, marinas and cafes, to put on their model. Choosing what to buy and how to design their model certainly gets the groups talking! The top two models from each class are chosen to go on display at our end of year parents and family Show Case at which point the overall winners are chosen.
We also ran a National Park Exchange between Somerleyton Primary School, Broads National Park, and Bury Church of England Primary School, South Downs National Park. Each school travelled to visit the other school in their National Park. They all spent an action packed three days away from home sleeping under canvas. Activities for Bury School in the Broads National Park included the boat ride from Oulton Broad, visiting Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve, Herringfleet Mill and a tour of Somerleyton Estate. In turn when Somerleyton visited the South Downs National Park they went geocaching, visited the Weald and Downland Museum, ruins of the Tudor Hall and Norman Castle at Midhurst and hiked over the hills above the school.
“The students have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have been talking of nothing else! Some have included the whole Water, Mills and Marshes project as a highlight of their time in Year 5!”Carlton Coleville Primary School
For the two High Schools and Sixth Form College we ran a day’s G.C.S.E. Ecology Field Trip at Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve for 80 students and produced the project’s first Broads Album.
The Broads Album was a five month project beginning with music students visiting various sites around the Broads National Park to gather inspiration. They then used their experiences from the trip to compose and record music and songs before performing in front of a live audience at the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. Their tracks are available on SoundCloud and can be listened to and downloaded for free here.
In 2019 we’re moving North and working with schools in Acle, Great Yarmouth, Loddon and the villages in between.