Thamesview School June 2016It’s been a fantastic year for the Fishing 4 Schools (F4S) project in Kent, with five new schools joining the programme during the academic year – bringing the total to 10 schools – and another two schools waiting to come aboard.

F4S is a national programme run by The Countryside Alliance Foundation. It runs short courses that offer a different way of learning for pupils, many with special educational needs, who may find academic work difficult but respond well to alternative learning. They integrate aspects of angling – for example weights and measures and fish biology – into the National Curriculum and encourage the youngsters to take up a new outdoor activity.

During the 2015/16 school year pupils from the following schools visited Grove Farm Fisheries at Hadlow College and Monk Lakes at Marden:

  • Broomhill Bank North, Tunbridge Wells
  • Rowhill Special School, Longfield
  • Orchard School, Canterbury
  • The Malling School, West Malling
  • Maplesden Noakes, Maidstone
  • Bower Grove, Maidstone
  • Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone
  • St Georges CofE School, Gravesend
  • Thames View, Gravesend
  • Meadowfield School, Sittingbourne

The majority of these schools are for youngsters with physical or behavioural challenges. They are trained by our instructors and will gain their Cast Awards (administered by the Angling Trust, the national body for fishing).

For some of these children this might be the only qualification they gain at school and it is a great boost to find out they excel at something. The course run with Rowhill School is a model for the way these courses work – the youngsters gain their Cast Awards and then can move on to a vocational qualification through Hadlow College, perhaps in fishery management.

Kent F4S organiser Warren White writes: “Rowhill is a special school for children with behaviour difficulties so is one of our more challenging groups. Charlie Rayner and I have been working with this school for six years as Rowhill has always been keen to give their pupils opportunities in a variety of outdoor pursuits.

“I would be lying if I said the pupils were not challenging but from this year’s course there have been some real positives. We have seen pupils who were very subdued at first gain confidence as the course has gone on. They have enjoyed the mixture of fly and coarse fishing, they have all gone on to achieve a Cast Award and seem proud of what they have done.”

The courses are over for the school year now, however we are holding an inter-school fishing competition at Grove Farm Fisheries on 27 September and the F4S programme will continue in the area in the next academic year, with more children learning about the wonderful world of the water.

Email Catrin Robinson – [email protected] if you would like to help or find out more about the project.