The aim is to work with teachers and schoolchildren over the coming year to learn about the Jurassic Coast through a range of visits, creative workshops and classroom sessions. The culmination of the project will be the creation of a series of colourful banners to be installed in the Square (near the Heritage Centre on Swanage Seafront) as a part of Purbeck Arts Week 2011.
The project kicked off on 1st September with an INSET day bringing together most of the teachers from all four local first schools, together with key teachers from Swanage Middle School, which was quickly followed by two boat trips on the Dorset Belle.
The first trip involved around 75 very excited 7-8 year old children from year 3 of the four first schools, together with teachers, assistants and parents. The weather was dry and bright with great visibility, although as we rounded Durlston Head we caught the wind and the skipper confessed that conditions were borderline for comfort! Despite a few green faces, (a number of them adult) everyone was more or less ok and some fantastic observational drawings of cliffs and rock formations showed how affected the children were by the experience. Topping this however was the sheer excitement of catching the sea spray on their hands and faces, and all returned exhilarated after a trip that took us west past Durlston Bay to the limestone crags around Dancing Ledge, before returning via the magnificent chalk stacks of Old Harry.
This was followed a week later by a similar trip with 9-10 year olds from the middle school, who were if anything even more excited, especially by the dramatic appearance of the huge and stately Waverley paddle steamer alongside us, which obligingly sounded the steam whistle to deafening effect.
All this made for an exciting launch for the project, and by the time the children have visited Durlston Country Park before they begin their workshops in November, they will hopefully be bursting with creative inspiration.
Ben Wyer, Jurassic Coast, Programme Coordinator