The children at Westcliff Primary Academy take part in an exciting enrichment programme called the ‘Westcliff Beach School’. At the Beach School, children learn about the natural world around them and develop their practical, emotional and intellectual skills. The children visit the beach regularly throughout the year in order for them to experience the beach across the seasons.
What’s so special about Beach Schools?
Beach Schools value and encourage independence which in turn enhances self-confidence and self-esteem. Participants are encouraged to assess risk inherent in the environment and in activities. Whilst safety and well-being are, of course, paramount it is essential to value learning opportunities presented by apparently risky activities. For example, walking across potentially slippery surfaces develops a sense of balance whilst discovering appropriate ways of traversing the terrain.
Beach School learners become more knowledgeable, more empathetic and develop greater respect and appreciation of the coastal environment. Taking children into their environment is like unclipping their wings. The shy ones, the ones who find it hard to sit still and the ones who disengage in the classroom, come alive and flourish on the beach.
Initially, children are given time to explore the surrounding environment, priority is given to group discussions regarding boundaries, dangers and safety which are paramount to learning safely. Staff carefully observe how children are learning through their individual interests and will scaffold and plan for their future development, stretching and stimulating curiosity. The children will also take part in varied, progressive and seasonal activities which include scavenger hunts, making numbers/letters with pebbles, rock pooling, writing letters in the sand, land art with natural materials found on the beach, building sandcastles, making shelters, raft building, imagination games, storytelling and role play, building fires and shoreline creatures.
Our aims at Westcliff Beach School
We want our children to:
Feel safe, secure and happy in the outdoor environment.
Develop a sense of care and thoughtfulness for their environment.
Become confident, independent and strong, and have time to develop their exploratory and creative drive
Be inquisitive, to ask questions and find their own answers and create their own meaning.
Who runs Beach Schools?
Beach Schools are facilitated by qualified Beach School Practitioners. Miss Hazlewood has achieved her Level 3 Beach Schools Practical Skills certificate and ensures all staff have relevant knowledge and skills to deliver the sessions for their own classes. A fully qualified first aider will be present at the Beach school sessions to ensure we maintain the highest standards in safety and Miss Hazlewood has regular discussions with the Beach Patrol team in Blackpool.
Wondering where the idea for Beach Schools came from?
Beach Schools developed from the highly acclaimed Forest Schools. By placing the learner at the heart of the learning experience they promote holistic, individualised learning and development. The pedagogical approach, common to Beach and Forest schools, allows participants to take responsibility for their own learning and development. The impacts on behaviour, motivation and learning are positive for all, but particularly for those who find a traditional classroom environment challenging.