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Students step onto beach for the first time thanks to Ocean School

Students step onto beach for the first time thanks to Ocean School

3 August 2019

Our immersive education programme aimed at getting children involved with ocean conservation has seen some students head to the beach for the first time in their lives this summer.

Ocean School (Ysgol y Mor), welcomed 1,500 primary and secondary school students into the ‘greatest classroom on earth’ in recent weeks.

“The aim? Simple. To give all children the opportunity to explore, investigate, protect and enjoy their beaches in their own way… (and to have loads of fun of course!!)”– SAS Education Manager, Dom Ferris

1 in 5 youngsters have never been to the beach!

However, of the huge number of children, around 20 said they had never been to a beach before – and, sadly, we think this is a conservative estimate, due to some students being too embarrassed to admit that it was their first time. Recent studies suggest that, nationally, almost one in five children have never been to a beach (Keep Britain Tidy, 2018).

We are aiming to change that, and, during this particular wave of Ocean School sessions, which saw more than 40 schools taking part, we were able to provide free transport for a number of schools in areas of social and economic deprivation (including Bournemouth, Swansea and Manchester).

These, and a significant number of other schools that attended, had an above average number of Pupil Premium (PP) students, which means that the number of disadvantaged students at the school was higher than normal (the national averages being 13.7% and 12.4% for primary and secondary respectively). PP students at one school alone made up 44% of the attendees.

With the wave of sessions, which have been running each summer since 2017, we are empowering young people to take matters like the plastic pollution crisis into their own hands through outdoor education. And thanks to 10 Ocean School delivery teams made up of 21 dedicated SAS regional reps, 48 sessions (26 in Wales and 22 in England) were held across 16 UK beaches this year.

Power to the pupils

The flexible programme even allowed one school to hand the power over to its pupils for the first time and guide other students in the right direction. This team, from Knelston Primary School, located on the Gower, hosted students from Sea View school (based in an economically deprived area of Swansea) and actually led and delivered Ocean School themselves – the first time we have been able to facilitate this style of delivery.

Following the sessions, Knelston School teacher Sal Beynon said:“It was absolutely amazing and we would most definitely do it again.

I felt a little nervous before as I knew we had several children (coming from Sea View School) with behavioural issues but they were so engaged in Ocean School. They were as good as gold and many of them didn’t want to leave.”

Engaging with Government

They weren’t the only inspired group of students, though, with other schools, like Nant y Moel Primary, using their session to reach out to government – in this case, by recording and sending a message from Ocean School to their local MP Chris Elmore (MP for Ogmore), who visited the school the very next day.

Ocean School’s out for summer

With the incredibly positive response, we’re now gearing to re-launch the programme for next year, which will feature an updated version of the programme for Key Stages 3 & 4 students.

Each summer term we deliver Ocean School at a selection of beaches across Wales and England. We have room for 40 schools and 1200 students to visit each year, so drop us a line at to be considered for 2020.

Head over to our Ocean School page to learn more about the programme and maybe take a few ‘ocean activist’ ideas to the beach with you this summer!

Call to volunteers after record beach cleans across the UK

Call to volunteers after record beach cleans across the UK

Today, we launch our biggest ever Autumn Beach Clean mobilising 20,000 volunteers at 500 events across the UK.

The cleans will take place between 19th – 27th of October.

We are calling for volunteers to register events on beaches, rivers, mountains and urban areas.

The cleans make up part of our ‘Plastic Free Communities’ movement with more communities engaged than ever before.Volunteers are being called to action as one leading UK marine charity launches a series of beach cleans this autumn.

The Autumn Beach Clean event, which is being held from 19th – 27th October and has been running annually since 2011, is part of a movement which aims to protect coastlines, create cleaner oceans and clean up inland areas.

It sees thousands of volunteers rallying their community every year to remove things like plastic pollution for a cleaner, safer environment – whether beach, river, street or mountain. Over the last few years, the Autumn Beach Clean has seen 1,419 cleans organised, mobilising 50,033 volunteers to clear 114,341kg of plastic pollution from beaches and rivers across the UK to date.

But, this year, organisers hope the event will be bigger than ever before –

We are now calling for Clean Leaders to answer the call and volunteer to lead their communities. To organise your clean, head HERE or email All Clean Leaders will receive a step-by-step guide and all of the equipment It was thanks to the huge number of volunteers that we were able to collect hundreds of data sets as part of a highly-successful recent brand audit, which analysed 49,400 pieces of plastic pollution (of which 20,045 were branded).

This, in turn, allowed us to submit vital evidence into a number of governmental consultations, including the Extended Producer Responsibilities and the Deposit Return Scheme – which will soon see consumers pay a small fee when buying drinks in plastic bottles or cans that is reimbursed when they return the container.

Now, to continue this vital work, organisers are hoping to reach 500 cleans for the autumn series, with the help of 20,000 volunteers collecting 30,000kg of pollution – the highest target so far.

It will also see a continuation of the Summit To Sea initiative, which is encouraging people from non-ocean areas to get involved, whether that’s by getting out into nature to do river and mountain cleans or cleaning up urban environments by removing pollution from the streets.

SAS’s Community Manager, Jack Middleton said “While beach cleans alone will never be the answer to plastic pollution, they are an incredible showing of community spirit and serve to educate and raise awareness on a mass scale. In short, they are the gateway to environmentalism. Every piece of plastic volunteers remove is also a victory for our beaches. Each piece of plastic also provides evidence to support our campaigns calling for packaging and business reform.

It is always inspiring too see how our communities mobilise around our nationwide beach and river clean events, engaging more and more people each year and truly becoming a force for good for our ocean”

The Autumn Beach Clean also makes up part of our work on battling single-use plastics – something which has seen Plastic Free Communities and Plastic Free Schools explode across the country.

Today, the project has seen 581 communities signed up, with 70 of them having achieved full Plastic Free status – all of which goes towards creating safer, cleaner environments for people and wildlife.

Within the project, there are 2,345 business working towards eliminating single-use plastic from their places of work – with 1,606 of these already landing the title of approved Business Champions – as well as 1,351 schools signed up to the programme to remove things like plastic milk bottles, with 52 having achieved status. The amount of schools signed up equates to 580,000 pupils.

To reach as many communities as possible, SAS will be working with a number of ‘Community Partners’ during the Autumn Beach Clean to expand into new networks and use other relevant groups’ experience for a bigger clean than ever before.

As always, we would like to thank out sponsors; The Crown Estate, Postcode Green Trust, Trewithian Dairy, Ren Skincare, Canoe Foundation, Parley for the Oceans, Hydroflask, Finisterre and Community & Charity Partners; Surfing England, British Canoeing, The British Mountaineering Council, South West Coast Path, The Wave Project, The Outdoor Swimming Society.needed to organise cleans free of charge along with day to day support from the Beach Cleans Team.

Gove backs ‘all-in’ deposit return system for drinks containers

Gove backs ‘all-in’ deposit return system for drinks containers

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, has today (16th July) in a speech at Kew Gardens outlined his support for a comprehensive deposit return system (DRS) that covers the “maximum amount of potentially polluting packaging”, covering all sizes of cans and bottles. Gove explained how the ‘all-in’ system, supported and informed by Surfers Against Sewage since its Message in a Bottle campaign in 2016, would provide a “clearer financial and social signal to recycle”.

The Environment Secretary promised that new systems would ensure that producers pay the full cost of the recycling costs of their packaging, up from the 10% contribution currently made, saying:

“We need to work with business to make deposit return schemes as effective as possible and I believe an “all-in” deposit return scheme will give consumers the greatest possible incentive to recycle.”

The announcement follows a Government consultation in which two key frameworks; the ‘all-in’ approach, and a restricted ‘on the go’ option, were proposed. Surfers Against Sewage has firmly backed a comprehensive system to reduce packaging pollution and boost recycling, whilst also reducing the risk that producers will switch to less sustainable materials in order to avoid having to take part in the system.

On the announcement Hugo Tagholm, CEO of Surfers Against Sewage said:

“Surfers Against Sewage welcomes today’s announcement from the Secretary of State for the Environment to deliver an ambitious, ‘all-in’, Deposit Return Scheme for England. The message after years of campaigning from many environmental organisations is now louder than ever and has shown clearly that a comprehensive scheme will help stop plastic pollution of our rivers, countryside, streets and ocean. This is one of our biggest system changes that will truly trap plastic in the economy, creating a circular and sustainable economy, and preventing the devastating damage that plastic and packaging pollution causes to wildlife, habitats and our seas.”

The ‘all-in’ system also mirrors the approach to be taken in Scotland, and is expected to drive bottle recycling rates in excess of 90%, up from the current 57%. This poses a significant environment benefit over the ‘on the go’ proposal, which research by Surfers Against Sewage revealed would exclude 58% of the plastic bottles found on British beaches and rivers.

Gove also used the opportunity to raise wider environmental concerns including climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and plastic pollution, declaring that “nature is in retreat” and “time is running out” to avert multiple crises. To achieve this, Gove announced that a new Environment Bill would “enshrine in law measures that will tackle environmental decline”, and that a truly independent environment watchdog would be instated, equipped with the “sharp teeth” it would require.