Lisa Howard, Year 6 Teacher at Langstone Junior Academy in Portsmouth tells us about their involvement in Fishing for Schools.
How did you find out about us?
A colleague from a local primary school told me about her experience of taking part in the Fishing for Schools project and the many benefits that her children gained from this. I went on the website after speaking to our senior leadership team and completed the application process.
What did your pupils enjoy the most?
Learning the skills step-by-step over three sessions enabled them to have the confidence to apply these on the fishing day at Meon Springs. Every child successfully caught and landed a trout which they took home to cook and share with their family and friends. It would be difficult to pin point one particular thing as all of it was enjoyable and enabled us to experience the successful day fishing off-site. Each session was great on its own and fed into the next one ultimately ending with the off-site visit.
Has anything surprised you about the programme?
The positive impact it has had on the children’s confidence was incredible – children who didn’t have the confidence to partake in group activities or talk to adults now do, which is amazing to see. Also great for them as they are about to move on to their next challenge of secondary school. This experience is not something we would ordinarily be able to provide as a school but it just proves that experiences like this are invaluable to children who can sometimes find the busy, academic pressure of the classroom overwhelming. We have never before seen these children concentrate and demonstrate patience and resilience for this amount of time
What is your most memorable experience/best bits?
Definitely the off-site visit to Meon Springs. Rob and the staff at the fisheries were amazing – really patient and supportive of the children – ensuring that everyone successfully caught a rainbow trout to take home. We are often limited in schools as to the experiences that we can provide, especially with larger groups of children. However, on this occasion, being able to take the children to a visit where they can apply their skills taught in the classroom was a perfect end to this experience.
What did the teachers/assistants enjoy the most in their time with F4S?
Teachers – Seeing the children increase in confidence and seek me out at the end of each session to tell me enthusiastically all about their experience was heart-warming especially as some of these children have additional needs. Being able to take children off-site in a small group is an opportunity to build deeper relationships with children – not something that is always easy in a large classroom setting.
Teaching assistant – The whole experience – from the very beginning when we learnt about the fish and their anatomy to seeing it when we dissected a rainbow trout was amazing. It gave a context to the learning and the children were able to make links. When they then caught a fish at Meon Springs, it made more sense. They were able to talk confidently and apply their knowledge. Making their own fly and understanding how complex they can be was brilliant. If only we had more time! Every week, the excitement grew in the lead up to a session which every child thoroughly enjoyed and fully engaged.
How did you find the coaches? Were they what you expected?
Rob was amazing – he was calm and fair with the children – they learnt a lot about fishing and were able to share this with their teachers. Communication was really good at all times and it made the experience work seamlessly.
He also included the staff in all of the activities both on-site and off-site. He acknowledged the support given by the TA to facilitate the sessions and was always prepared and knowledgeable.
Can you let us know the funniest moment on the course?
The funniest moment, aside from when Charles’ dog jumped in the fishery lake, was during the food tasting when one of the children tried fish for the first, smiled, shivered slightly due to the unfamiliar taste and was then really positive with his feedback. This is the same child who invited his friend for tea on the Friday after the trip to experiment with alternative recipes using the trout he caught.
Do you think the school will embrace a different view of angling-education and general outdoor education as a result of this programme?
100% - we are hoping to be involved again next year. Angling is not something that the staff here at Langstone have much experience of and we certainly would be unable to provide this experience ourselves. Programmes like this are invaluable to provide more personalised experiences to a small group of children that otherwise they would not have access to. We highly value outdoor education here at Langstone and provide, outside of COVID restrictions, a range of experiences but this was pretty unique.
What do you think the future holds for fishing education related activities in the school after the departure of F4S?
With very limited funding, the cost of living to parents and the lack of equipment and expertise, I believe it would cease to exist which is a huge shame. In our recent leavers assembly for Year 6, F4S featured as a favourite memory – that sums up the positive experience of this programme.
Thank you for allowing us to be a part of it.