Wild Estuary is a 6 week school programme of 2 hour sessions run outside at your nearest estuarine location near to your school, organised by the Medway Swale Estuary Partnership and supported by Swale Borough Council. Each school can access 1 programme free of charge for 15 children. The sessions follow the Forest School ethos and encourage team skills, independence and taking responsibility for your session. The wider aim of the programme is the connect the children to their local estuary and wildlife, looking at the problems facing the estuary from climate change and plastic pollution and to nurture support, love and caring for it for the next generation. The children will learn to identify local wildlife present, play safely outside and learn to risk assess.
Wild Estuary encourages self-led learning and if a student does not want to join in, it is not compulsory. Time for free play is usually factored into a session, helping students to become more familiar and comfortable in a coastal setting and providing informal learning opportunities. The programme is altered to the age and ability of the children attending to ensure the children have fun, learn and build confidence
Wild Estuary staff will lead activities and manage students’ behaviour throughout the sessions using methods which do not undermine the individual’s learning or confidence, with emphasis on positive feedback. An aim of Wild Estuary is to equip teachers with the skills and confidence to take their class back on the beach after the programme is over, we strongly recommend that teachers take an active roll in the sessions.
Recent feedback has shown the positive impact the sessions have on the children back in school. Such as writing and communication skills. Teachers are often surprised by students as different children shine in outside environment. Lots of positive feedback from parents on how they children had lots fun, learnt lots and educated their families.
Great locations for rock pooling are Minster Leas and Sheerness beach by the groynes or under rocks. Be careful when handling crabs as they can be damaged very easily and when lifting rocks as they can be sharp. Please collect your free ID booklet from Sheppey FM.
Saltmarshes form in sheltered coastal areas, such as estuaries.. They start life as mudflats, covered at high tide and exposed as the tide recedes. As water passes over them, sediment is deposited increasing the height of the mud, so that it becomes less regularly inundated by the tide and more stable. This allows pioneering plants such as Eel grass to become established, whilst their roots trap further sediment, helping to stabilise the mudflats further. As the height of the mudflats continues to increase, further types of salt tolerant plants (such as cord grass or glasswort) able to withstand regular inundation by the tides occur, creating a flat saltmarsh habitat of low growing vegetation, intersected by narrow channels. As the marsh continues to stabilise, its upper reaches become less water logged allowing less salt tolerant species, such as Sea aster and Sea lavender and above these plants such as Sea purslane and Golden samphire to grow.
Why is Saltmarsh important?
Saltmarshes are hugely important not only for their plant life (most of which are not found anywhere else), but also for creatures such as worms, shrimps, shellfish, fish, wading birds and wildfowl (ducks and geese). They provide nursery areas for fish, food for waders and wildfowl and nesting sites for waders and seabirds. Saltmarshes can also play a vital role in protecting our coastline by reducing wave energy, which can then help to reduce flooding. They can also help in the fight against climate change, as they are able to store large amounts of carbon.
Great saltmarsh locations are Swale National Reserve, Milton Creek Country Park, Faversham Creek and the Brickworks at Lower Halstow.
Why not take a bag and pick up as much plastic in 2 minutes while you are visiting. Most plastic litter does not decompose so removing from the beach environment is key. Many small bits of plastic found on the beach are quite old. I have been collecting smartie lids since 2000 and the Rowntree lids stop being made in 1995 and the Nestle lids in 2005 and find one on most beach cleans.
Discover the 'Sheppey Shoreline' (downloadable pdf) - a family guide to the wildlife that can be found across the island's beaches. Print off the guide and take it with you and see what you can find and identify, remembering to follow the Seashore Code.