The Ocean Conservation Trust is launching a brand-new learning programme for all Key Stages, hoping to inspire UK students to become ocean literate and #ThinkOcean.
Built alongside teachers and curriculum-aligned, the programme offers a range of engaging sessions an workshops, not just focusing on environmental conservation but also on educating younger generations and supporting teachers in the classroom – especially now, when COVID-19 has led to the cancellation of field trips and school travel.
The first lesson launched in September this year, comprising downloadable, self-contained sessions complete with a range of videos and resources linked to the primary science curriculum, and using the ocean as an explorative tool of educational concepts. Easy-to-use and accessible for both students and teachers, the programme has been piloted through the Connect Academy Trust.
But that’s not all; the Ocean Conservation Trust is also setting up virtual tours of the National Marine Aquarium. Through this unique experience, pupils can virtually visit all three aquarium zones; the first covering local coasts, rock pool shallows and offshore marine life; the second showcasing the wonders of the Atlantic Ocean; and the third covering tropical reefs.
“Providing this cross-curricular ocean-themed learning programme is a huge step in the right direction – not just for the ocean conservation, but for the blue economy too” Stu Higgs, schools programme manager, Ocean Conservation Trust
Complete with follow-up science, art and literacy activities and fun learning assessments, the tours are delivered by marine biologists and scientists who work alongside trained teachers and youth workers with marine science qualifications. Alongside the tour, activities and lesson plans are offered as a package bundle, giving participants two to three days worth of further learning.
The bespoke tours last 90 minutes and can be tailored to specific needs, holding the capacity for up to two classes at a time.
Resources are updated every term in line with curriculum requirements and teacher insights, with the Trust consistently reinvesting money in the project. The only equipment needed for schools to take part is a classroom projector.
With no UK citizen living further than 70 miles from the sea, the Ocean Conservation Trust feels its imperative for children to learn about marine ecosystems. But with the ongoing pandemic meaning school trips are banned, this distance learning programme means students don’t have to miss out. On top of this, next year brings the start of the UN Decade of the Ocean, and this virtual project gives the UK a head start.
Nicola Bridge, head of conservation education and communications at the Ocean Conservation Trust, commented: “Despite the ocean representing the largest living space on the planet and being essential for the survival of all of us, it has traditionally been overlooked in the national curriculum, which is something we, as an ocean conservation charity, feel strongly needs to change and we want to encourage active learning. Despite some of the continued COVID-related restrictions we are all under, our virtual tours and downloadable lessons will help teachers and pupils get access to valuable resources and interactive activities, and won’t have to put ocean learning on hold.
“The UK is a national global leader in marine science, and we feel ocean-related teaching should therefore be an essential part of the core curriculum offering for all schools and want to help facilitate that.
“The ocean provides half of the oxygen we breathe, drives bad weather and climate and is a valuable food source for much of the world, and to look after it for future generations, we need to create an ocean literate generation – that is to say, a generation that understands the ways in which we are all inextricably connected to it, just as it is to us.”