With the governments push for exploring outdoor learning; the new focus on personal development and behaviour in the new Ofsted inspection framework; East Coast College has responded to the challenge by meeting it head on. 

We have created exciting new courses aimed at meeting this new innovative way of educating and captivating the interests of our children and young people.  Beach school is a brand new way of teaching by using our beautiful coastlines to promote an awareness of our environment and our responsibility towards caring for it. 

Last week on a blustery Saturday in April, East Coast College ran the first of their introductory beach school sessions aimed at giving the practitioners the practical skills and knowledge to take children and young people on the beach and create activities that strengthen and enrich the curriculum and improve mental and emotional wellbeing.

There was a mixed cohort including an early year’s practitioner, a primary school teacher, a local artist and teacher, college lecturers and a head of a residential school aimed at therapeutic care and education for children with a range of different needs.

The course started in the college’s new international centre, and included discussions of risk assessments, equipment needed, tidal currents and safety.  They discussed and explored benefits of the approach and how it could tie in with existing mainstream lessons including art, English, maths, science and much more across different key stages. 

This was followed up by an afternoon bracing the wet and windy weather, as beach school is an all year round approach and cannot be stopped by a bit of wild weather.

The participants started with some mindfulness in the guise of relaxation and meditation.  “Listening to the waves made me realise how insignificant and temporary my issues are” exclaimed one participant.  “I just wanted to sit and listen for longer, I felt calm” said another.  This is one of the key strengths of this approach, the ability to be at one with nature and how the environment can help ground us and help us to control our emotions and help us to feel at peace.

They went on to do lots of practical activities, learning about conservation, the tides and the moon with a hands on Jaffa cake experiment that meant they got to hide under a special tent, eat Jaffa cakes and show understanding of the different moon types. The participants learnt rope tying and ended up creating some ephemeral art in teams.

The lecturers who ran this course had previously trialled this on some college students that struggle with behaviour and they were surprised at just how much of an impact it had.

The college has just won a contract working with ‘Ness point heritage’ securing a contract to deliver a number of family days exploring the most easterly point of the UK.  They have also had a lot of interest from local primary schools and early years’ providers interested in this new way of encouraging learning and celebrating the landscape. There is also a level 3 beach school course aimed at those who want to delve into this concept further.

Other courses being run by the college include introduction to forest schools, Level 3 Forest schools, PANco training, and two brand new qualifications based on the college’s trip to Reggio Emilia, exploring how they create an education based on citizenship and science and art. The college can provide CPD in settings or create bespoke courses based on the interests and needs of your cohort. For more information contact the college team on earlyears@eastcoast.ac.uk

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