Education is more than the classroom

Education is more than the classroom

Education is more than the classroom

Did you know our Blue Flag award – celebrating the world’s best beaches – isn’t just about water quality. Educating and informing play an important part of the award criteria – protecting our beaches now and for future generations.

But this doesn’t just mean lessons for school children, as our award-winning Torbay beaches demonstrate. We can all both learn and teach – whatever our age, backgrounds or reasons for using our beaches and seas.

To help deliver on-site environmental education on their beaches, Torbay Council are working in partnership with the town’s Living Coasts aquarium. Taking school classes down to the beach, to experience things first-hand, is the best way for them to learn about the seas and how to protect them. 

But school groups are just the start of what ‘environmental education’ means at Torbay’s beaches. Their action group of volunteers (with founding members from both the council and Living Coasts) have achieved so much since forming less than a year ago. 

Aside from collecting a staggering five tonnes of litter from the South Devon coastline (mostly plastics), the group’s regular community litter picks include awareness raising. Both visitors and residents learn about the seas and how we can all protect them.

Other groups regularly join the volunteers too - local Brownie groups are always a favourite. These young people really want to be on the beach and get more involved.  They in turn educate their own parents about what they’ve learnt and why it matters. After all, it’s the younger generation who will be most affected tomorrow by how we treat our seas today.

Some marine litter is even coming full-circle, to be used for good. Informing and involving local fishermen has allowed old fishing nets – potentially lethal litter for marine life – to be recycled into canoes. These are then used by coastal community groups to litter pick hard-to-reach sections of the coastline.

So whether it’s children teaching their parents, or fishermen helping to turn the tide on litter, environmental education is more than a lesson in the classroom at our award-winning beaches.