Eden Valley schools participate in innovative pilot scheme learning about our aquatic environment

Children from High Hesket, Lanercost and Kirkoswald primary schools are first to be involved with "Future Fish: Edenstart" programme devised and executed by three leading environmental bodies

Children from High Hesket, Lanercost and Kirkoswald primary schools are first to be involved with "Future Fish: Edenstart" programme devised and executed by three leading environmental bodies

Developed by the Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) in partnership with the Environment Agency (EA) and Borderlines, "Future Fish: Edenstart" aims to "reconnect young people with rivers, their fish and habitats and their importance to the wider community".

Starting in June this year, and involving 165 pupils aged from 8-11 years, it is designed to be rolled out nationwide if the pilot scheme, working on two local rivers –Irthing and the Eden – is deemed successful on completion.

The scheme combines classroom study with practical river-based days, when the students will be pond dipping, observing the life cycle of fish, casting and fishing. The scheme closely follows existing curricula and is linked to school projects; for example, "Water" is the theme for one of the schools. It incorporates local geography, demonstrates why the health of a river has just far-reaching importance for everybody, and involves the students in habitat management.

Above all, it is designed with life-long learning to the fore, aiming to encourage participation in angling by highlighting the healthy, active lifestyle this sport promotes, as well as demonstrating the economic importance of healthy rivers and angling tourism to the community.

Explains Tom Clifford, S&TA North West regional director and creator of the scheme: "The original inspiration were the enormously popular S&TA

Branch angling days which have introduced many, many people to angling and the aquatic environment in which it operates. These, combined with successful initiatives such as Tweedstart in Kelso and Borderlines in Carlisle (both part-funded by the S&TA) which now run regular courses throughout the year, prove how effective the combination of angling instruction and environmental awareness study can be."

And Paul Knight, S&TA CEO, adds, "As a charity, one of our key objectives and platforms is education for all ages, and this initiative is a perfect example of introducing primary schoolchildren to the diversity of life found within the water environment. We are delighted that the schools in the Eden Valley have been so receptive to this innovative project. We shall closely monitor the success of this pilot scheme, and plans are already afoot to roll it out nationally in a staged programme."