Lowestoft school twins with counterparts on the volcanic island
It is the only school on an isolated volcanic island educating just 60 pupils.
But thanks to a “unique” link up, the next generation of ocean advocates have been supported as part of an inspirational project.
Cefas – the Lowestoft-based, world-leading marine research organisation – has forged a special twinning project between the only school on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean and a Lowestoft primary school – some 7,000km away.
Despite being located in opposite hemispheres, Two Boats School on Ascension Island and St Margaret’s Primary Academy in Lowestoft have united as part of a groundbreaking scheme.
The school twinning project, supported by Cefas and Ascension Island, has shown that a “shared passion for nature is a powerful force in bringing together two different communities”.
With the “diverse climates and marine environments” of the South Atlantic and North Sea, Cefas officials said the project “aims to improve children’s ocean literacy and support them in making positive choices that will impact our ocean”.
The Cefas engagement team has worked with external partners and science colleagues to help bring Cefas’ science to a wider audience, including education and community settings, with the “aim of inspiring the next generation of aquatic scientists”.
Reflecting on the launch of a “unique approach to STEM learning” Cefas Engagement Officer, Rachael Mann, said: “I have been working with headteacher Zara Lambert of Lowestoft’s St Margaret’s Primary School to develop a partnership to bring the aquatic environment into the classroom and young people outside for opportunities to learn first-hand about their local marine habitats.)
“As the largest employer in Lowestoft, Cefas offers a unique perspective, as a national science institute operating both in the UK and internationally, in some of the most remote islands in the world.”
Since 2016, Cefas has been working to help develop and protect the precious aquatic environments of a number of the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) – including Ascension Island – through the UK Government’s Blue Belt Programme.
“The twinning partnership between St Margaret’s Primary School in Lowestoft and Two Boats School in Ascension is connecting two diverse educational settings, with the support of the Blue Belt Programme and an ambition of working together to find out more about each other’s marine environment, the species that live there and what they can do to protect and restore nature,” Ms Mann added.
It has seen pupils from both schools sending and receiving their own video messages introducing themselves and describing their local marine environments.
Cefas and the Ascension government provided in person teaching sessions at their respective schools with the children creating postcards depicting their local food chains.
These were then sent to their twin school so that students could compare and contrast the food chains found in the two locations.
Lorna West, Ascension Government engagement officer, said: “Recently we twinned with St Margaret’s School in Lowestoft to compare Ascension’s food webs with food webs in the UK.
“The children were very excited to help St Margaret’s learn about Ascension and create some beautiful postcards.”
After partnering with Cefas last year to support the development of Cefas’ education programme, Zara Lambert, St Margaret’s headteacher, said: “We are incredibly excited to be working in partnership with Cefas.
“Our focus as a Green Flag Eco school is to ensure that all children have an education that enables them to have a positive impact on their planet.
“Twinning with Two Boats School is the definition of unlocking the potential and broadening the horizons of our community.
“It is an exquisite partnership that will enable our pupils to strengthen their resolve in both their local responsibilities and actions as global citizens.
Ms Mann added: “It’s been inspiring to work with the children in Lowestoft and Ascension.
“Although these schools are different in many ways, it’s abundantly clear that they enjoy a shared passion for the natural environment and a commitment to make a difference to the world they live in.”