Warren White, who leads the Fishing 4 Schools (F4S) programme in Kent, and angling coach David Evans are working with five students from Rowhill Community Special School, in Longfield. The boys are embarking on a level one BTEC in land-based studies after being introduced to angling by F4S.
Warren said: “This course is a bit of an experiment, as normally we would work with students individually, but because this year we have had interest than normal, we have agreed to give a course a go.
“These are boys who have recently been on the Fishing 4 Schools angling course. They are now five weeks into the BTEC course, which runs one day a week, for two years and is funded by the school.
“This is the most challenging work I have ever done in angling coaching. Individually the boys are good, but altogether is another story – remember these boys are from a school that specialises in children with behaviour and learning difficulties.
“They are all so different. Some are stronger at the paperwork, some stronger at fishing and their concentration levels are very varied. But one thing that has surprised me is how quick certain individuals are to understand the science and the outdoor environment in general.
“On Thursday we were collecting water samples in a freshwater habitat, then analysing them; measuring pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature, which went really well.
“The trick to running this course, we find, is to do a bit of paperwork in the morning and the reward is to go fishing in the afternoon. Without this formula the course would probably not work. Remember we are working with these students all day, something not even their teachers do.
“It is early days yet, and the course will get harder in the winter months when the pupils cannot fish so much due to the cold weather. We will then be looking at organising some day trips, a visit to the Hatchery at Hadlow and a boat trip on the Thames to learn more about our local river and its history.
“This course gives the students an opportunity to do something they like. Fishing 4 Schools has done the groundwork and the school is backing this up with continuing funding.”