The Canal & River Trust is a UK based charity entrusted with the care of the inland waterway network in England and Wales. It is also the guardian of our waterway heritage through its group of Museums & Attractions. Helen Evans shares how their resources can help teachers get pupils out of the classroom and explore this rich national heritage.
This is an extract from the May 2014 Edition of UKEdMagazine. Click here to read the article in full, free.
The Canal & River Trust’s education programme Canal & River Explorers delivers educational activities for schools and groups across the country. Our mission is to inspire as many people as possible to connect with our waterways. Each canal and river is unique and offers powerful ways in which to engage your pupils and bring learning to life.
[pullquote]The canal environment offers multiple opportunities for enhancing the curriculum[/pullquote]There are over 2000 miles of navigable waterways in the UK, so the chances are that many of your schools will be located close to a canal or river. We believe that the canal environment offers multiple opportunities for enhancing the curriculum; such as investigating habitats, identifying and classifying plants and animals, geography fieldwork skills, local history, personal safety, design and technology of bridges and tunnels… the list goes on. We want to encourage all teachers to take advantage of this incredible free educational resource that for many of you is on your doorstep. In order to help you do so, this article will signpost you to simple, practical, curriculum linked resources for planning and delivering engaging learning activities on your local towpath.
Planning a Visit
For many, planning a visit to the local canal is a daunting prospect. The risk assessment alone can seem endless. But before panic sets in, you can simply go to our website at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/explorers. There is a ‘teachers’ section where you will find a section on visit planning, which tells you all you need to know about staying safe and includes an example risk assessment to download. You can even book a free water safety session, delivered by one of our team, prior to your visit.
The website is awash with a range of resources and activity ideas, including topic packs, lesson plans and activity sheets. These resources have been written and developed by teachers and education specialists. They are regularly reviewed and updated to bring them in line with curriculum changes and we are adding more all the time. Our most recently added resource, in response to the new history curriculum, is all about using the canals to study local history.
Visits led by our Education Team
For those of you who may not feel confident in planning your own towpath visit, or feel that you need support with the content of learning activities, you can book a led visit to your local canal for free or to one of the museums & attractions for a small charge.
The education teams are made up of volunteers, trained by our Education Coordinators after a rigorous recruitment and background checking process. They receive training in safeguarding, working with children and water safety as well as training in delivering our activities.
I will leave you with a few practical hints and tips for getting out and exploring the fascinating world of canals. I hope you will be inspired to immerse your classes in the ’real life’ learning experiences they can gain from the canal environment…