Cross-curricular visit to a fishing community

Date Posted: 14/10/2014

School: Dudley Infant Academy, Hastings, East Sussex   
KS: 1
Destination: The Stade and Fisherman’s Museum, Hastings

Hastings is home to Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet and the heart of the Old Town, which encompasses the shingle beach, is called the Stade, the old Saxon word meaning landing place.

The Old Hastings Preservation Society was founded to conserve the area and runs the Fisherman’s Museum in the former fishermen’s church. Volunteers from the museum offer guided educational walks of the Stade to explore the history of the fishing community and the local area.

Corinne Harris, a class teacher at Dudley Infant Academy, said: “We normally visit the beach yearly as our school is situated so close to the seaside, only a 15-minute walk. We also have an annual topic - Hastings our town.”

In the past she has visited with reception and Year 2 pupils and the most recent trip was for five and six-year-olds. It focused on the beach at the Stade, with input from a representative of the Sussex Wildlife Trust which delivers a Wild Beach educational programme. 

“She was able to show me how to really use the beach environment to support children's learning,” said Corinne. “The visits to the beach are cross-curricular and some of the benefits involved include literacy, where we practice listening games through a five finger sound game and stone tapping activities. We find a pebble to draw a word or image on and then place the stones in a bag and take turns to tell a story.

“For science we look at creatures found in rock pools, use our senses to discuss the beach environment and paddle in the sea. Geography involves comparing the beach environment to that of a garden or park. We also look at weather patterns, the seaside environment and why people visit the beach.

"We are linked to a school in Hastings, Sierra Leone, so we compare both of our fishing communities, looking at pollution and fishing sustainability. For art we go beachcombing, create beach art, draw the fishing boats, design sandcastle designs and make and fly kites.”

History studies in the Fisherman's Museum

History studies involve a visit to the Fishermen’s Museum next to the distinctive tall, black net sheds. Exhibits include photographs, paintings and historic objects and the opportunity to climb aboard the last of the local sailing luggers, built in 1912.

In addition to seeing the museum and going on a guided Stade walk, schools can complete a tour with a look around the Shipwreck Museum. The collection of artefacts recovered from local shipwrecks including the warship Anne, which foundered in 1690, and Dutch treasure ship Amsterdam, wrecked in 1749, vividly recalls old seafaring days and fires children’s imagination.

Corinne said: “Some of the highlights from the visits have been the children's reactions and their increased confidence to the opportunities offered. For example, those who are quiet become more responsive and speak more in this environment, others who find it hard to concentrate became more focused and interested with this type of kinesthetic learning.

"Some of our children have never been to the beach before and don’t want to touch the wet sand at first, but once they become involved we can’t get them away from the activities and their responses range from ‘this is the best day ever’ and  ‘this is fun, are we still learning?’

“I would definitely recommend using the beach to support classroom learning and next year I am keen to visit during all four seasons so the children really get a chance to compare the sea and the weather.”

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Photo credit: VisitBritain.

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