A student and staff team at the University of Worcester have been inspiring schoolchildren to consider the impact of flooding.
Members of the University’s Flood Education Green Impact team visited two local schools to deliver sessions as part of its Flood Education Programme, with plans to visit more in the future.
Dr Cheryl Jones, Principal Lecturer in Geography, and Elena Lengthorn, Senior Lecturer for Secondary and Post Compulsory Education, along with Geography student and Green Impact Project Assistant, Megan Asbury, met with Hanley Castle High School’s newly formed Sustainability Club. Pupils involved were a mix of Years 7 to 10 and Year 12. They also delivered sessions with eager Year 5 pupils at Cherry Orchard Primary School, in Worcester.
They discussed the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. They also introduced the pupils to the three Environment Agency Flood warnings, how to recognise them and what actions should be taken at each warning stage. However, the sessions focused in particular on young people’s experiences of flooding and the high volume of loss and emotional distress associated with these events.
The University team conducted a practical simulating the flooding of homes, involving paper homes and furniture that the pupils put together. A second practical activity involved pupils making their own ‘flood water’ designed to deter them from wading through flood water for fun. Finally, attendees were encouraged to think about the ways in which they can prepare for a flooding event in their houses and within the school.
Following their session, Sustainability Club members at Hanley and the pupils involved from Cherry Orchard were invited to create and submit a competition entry of their own flood action plan to try and ensure that the learning from the session leads to practical plans being in place.
Ms Lengthorn said: “The pupils were engaged and asked lots of in depth and high-level questions to help further their own natural curiosity about flooding. The practicals were especially well received and the visualisation of the information given helped them understand the session even more. The recent Department for Education Sustainability and Climate Change paper highlights flooding as an issue for schools, reporting that nearly half of schools (10,710) are at risk of flooding, which is expected to increase to at least 13,662 by the 2050s, so this work is particularly timely as part of a wider drive to raise awareness.”
Assistant Head of Cherry Orchard Primary School, Emma Rowe, said: “The children and staff really loved the session and loved the chance to share what they knew about the Sustainable Development Goals, a blueprint for sustainability set by the United Nations.”
The visits coincide with the Department for Education’s recent publication of its Sustainability and Climate Change paper, which sets targets including preparing all young people for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical experience. It also addresses the issue of flooding in schools and plans to provide opportunities and advice for education settings to improve their flood resilience.
Sustainability has been a key commitment of the University for more than a decade. The University won Sustainability Institution of the Year at the 2019 Green Gown Awards and went on to be Globally Highly Commended at the International Green Gown Awards, at the United Nations in New York. It was named winner of the Innovation for Engagement Award in this year’s national Green Impact Awards, organised by the independent group, Students Organising for Sustainability UK. This recognised ways in which Green Impact teams have engaged more people in sustainability activity.