Author Erin Pettifer
April marked the beginning of our exciting Beach School pilot with St Mary Magdalen primary school in Brighton.
It’s got off to a brilliant start with Sussex Wildlife Trust staff and teachers alike buzzing about the fantastic experience this lucky class are getting.
And the children’s reaction has been wonderful. Their enthusiasm for the incredible creatures they’re finding down on their local Brighton beach and their joy at the simple pleasure of being out in the fresh air, buffeted by the wind and witnessing the ever changing marine environment has been lovely to watch.
At first glance the shingle beach a mere stone’s throw away from their school could seem like it wouldn’t have much to offer for a day’s visit, let alone keep children occupied for weeks of outdoor learning. But when you take the time to really look, delve within the strandline dropped by the sea at high tide, search the surrounding pebbles and look at out to sea and up at the clouds, you’ll be amazed how much there is to do and talk about.
The children have been bursting with questions:
“Why is the sea salty?”
“How was the sea made?”
“Why is the sea blue?”
- they’ve definitely got me thinking!
The diversity of life that’s washed up at Brighton has astonished children and adults alike. Sea squirts, anemones, algae, dog fish, pipe fish, whelks, crabs, cuttlefish, egg cases galore and more!
This is just a mere taster of what our seas off Sussex have to offer. In fact half of all our plants and animals live in our seas!
At our most recent beach school day, we had a fantastic session kindly run by the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and hosted at Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales. Children were wowed again by what we have living in our seas, getting up close and personal with some of the fish and crustaceans that are caught just off our coast and learning about the ways they’re caught. The Sussex IFCA even treated them to a trip on their enforcement vessel and the class got to meet a real live fisherman!
Packed full of wonderful creatures, responsible for regulating our climate, providing us with food and a huge range of other resources and even producing half of the oxygen we breathe… our seas are truly wondrous!
We have also been ‘live tweeting’ from the Beach School sessions. Catch up with our @SussexBeachSch tweets here:
The Beach School pilot is funded by Carnival UK with support from Betts Metals, and the Big Lottery’s Access to Nature Programme.