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Case Study: Nausicaa, Boulogne, France

Date Posted: 15/03/2013

School: Borden Church of England Primary School, Kent
Number of pupils: 48
KS: 2

The accessible sea life centre, Nausicaa, was picked as the destination for the first school trip to France for a group of pupils from Borden, near Sittingbourne in Kent.

Under two hours from the UK on Eurostar with an onward coach or rail travel to Nausicaa in northern France, it is an ideal destination for a first cross-Channel trip. Veronique Lees, Modern Foreign Languages teacher at Borden Church of England Primary School, organised the trip as part of the MFL curriculum. Pupils looked at the French website in class to learn vocabulary and were also set some homework in literacy.

Much more than an aquarium, Nausicaa is home to 36,000 fish and marine animals, focusing on conservation and raising awareness about threats to the ocean in an educational and fun environment.

“We started with the South Pole exhibition, including a short 3D film with ‘real’ effects, so when it rained we were sprayed with light water and when it was windy there was a breeze in the auditorium, so it was very effective,” said Veronique.

The pupils were then divided into small groups, with an adult in charge of each party, to walk around the centre, (where signage is in English) before eating a packed lunch in a room reserved for the school.

“The tour also included a one-hour presentation called Zoom into Marine Life, at extra cost, where an English-speaking educator was able to show very small creatures using a microscope and huge interactive whiteboard,” said Veronique. “I was worried the children might not be able to sit still for an hour; however they were fascinated because the animals were unusual and interesting, and the live images were wonderful. The speaker asked questions throughout and kept the pupils engaged and focused. It was definitely worth paying extra for.

“While we walked around the centre we were left to our own devices, which was good as it meant we could go back and forth as we pleased. All the displays were well presented with a huge variety of sea life to look at, including penguins and sharks. The centre is quite dark in places and this added to the atmosphere.

“The best points of the trip included excellent value for money. Although you have to pay to reserve the lunch room and for any workshops, it is still very reasonably priced. The preparation for the trip was very good and the centre is within 30 minutes of Calais, straight off the motorway with good parking facilities. The pupils loved it and were entranced by the fish and all the other animals. Nausicaa is focused very much on the protection of the ocean and this is made obvious throughout the centre.”

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Photo credit: Nausicaa

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