Annie-May Roberts, director of First Wave Adventures, tells STO how beneficial water-based school trips are, and what you need to do to organise a good one.

Water-based activity

Getting children involved in water-based activities has many benefits.

As a former teacher I am passionate about education outside of the classroom. Now as director of First Wave Adventures, in Cornwall, my role is to support schools in their quest for a water sports trip that fosters individual personal and academic development.

An ocean-based adventure is ideal for teachers of Key Stages 2-5 who want to provide their class with more than just the thrills and spills of an activity residential. When pupils experience the ocean through skill led tasks resilience is nurtured, an experience of the natural environment understood, and a sense of stewardship is offered.

Annie May

Annie May, director of First Wave Adventures.

When planning, there will be a number of questions you ask yourself. Here are five tips for organising a successful water-based trip:

1. Ask yourself ‘Are we on the same page?’

Do your research. Does your company specialise in school groups? Is the company a master of one speciality or a jack of all trades? Bear in mind the biggest sites are also most likely to mean that activity providers will be hosting for a variety of different group types, including stag and hen parties.

2. Testimonials and accreditations are essential

You will also want the reassurance that your instructors can cater for your group’s age range and indeed your individual requirements, including special educational needs (SEN) or English as a second language (EAL) needs.

Don’t forget to get an insight into a company from looking at its social media pages - you soon get a feel for its cliental and its core passions. And remember, parents are likely to do their own checks too. If a company holds the AALA License as well as an LOTC accreditation, you know their focus is on your needs as a teacher.

3. Location, location, location

This is so important when choosing a beach-based trip. Ask your provider about the water quality and how the beach is used. Can you walk to the water from your accommodation or do you have to add the expense and strain of transportation? When you arrive, the beach and sea will most likely be a public space so ensure the company you select has privileged access, or even better, select a company that has their own waterside base dedicated to schools

4. Use the experience to inspire groups and individuals

Share your trip objectives with a provider. There are so many inspirational icons and curriculum links to refer to both pre and post trip experience. Once pupils have experienced the ocean first hand they will become passionate activists themselves.

5. Do the rewards outweigh the risks?

Working with a reputable water sports provider means that you are working with risk benefits rather than risk hazards. Water sports should not just be adrenaline-fuelled activities, reserved for the ‘sporty’ children. They should be experienced by all. It’s proven surfing, especially, is massively therapeutic, building confidence and social skills.

First Wave Adventures profile

First Wave Adventures, in Cornwall offers activities include bodyboarding, surfing, coasteering, and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP), beach cleans and more.