A group of education students from the University of Plymouth have become the first to take part in a unique enrichment opportunity
A group of education students from the University of Plymouth have become the first to take part in a unique enrichment opportunity.
The Primary BEd and BA students took part in a practical-based field course, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and designed to provide them with the knowledge and skills to include ocean literacy in their future teaching.
The course was developed and delivered by Tamara Mortimer and Dr Alun Morgan, from the Plymouth Institute of Education, in collaboration with the Ocean Conservation Trust and South Devon AONB Estuaries Partnership.
The course was also supported by local professionals and organisations including Dr David Conway, of the Marine Biological Association, who led a plankton workshop, and Coral Smith, the Marine Awareness Officer from Devon Wildlife Trust, who talked to the students about planning visits to the seashore environment and the support available.
Marine biology students from the University also volunteered to support the education students with their identification of coastal species.
Over three days, the education students considered the global issues of climate change and sustainability, their links to the principles of ocean literacy, and their place in education both within and outside the formal curriculum.
They spent time at the National Marine Aquarium and the foreshore by the University’s Marine Station, while the final day at Wembury focused on the importance of water catchments, learning how to assess fresh water quality and evaluating games and activities aimed at primary children to reinforce the learning.
A final rock pool ramble provided the opportunity to rehearse and practise some of the stories learned on the course about some of the most common marine creatures, as well as the chance to spot some more unusual ones such as the spiny starfish and pipefish, relations of the seahorse.
The participants will be awarded a digital badge in recognition of their participation and engagement in the event.
Education students ocean literacy course 2022
Education students ocean literacy course 2022

Comments from some of the participants

“This was a very informative course that taught me a lot about ocean literacy, and its importance in the curriculum should not be undermined.”

– Luke Ward, Year 3 BEd.

“I found the constant guidance on how you would do these activities with children incredibly useful. It afforded me the opportunity to see how I could use this learning within my own classroom one day.”

– Jerry Dawe, Year 1 BEd.

“Getting outside and exploring what we have right on our doorstop was what I found most enjoyable. I really enjoyed learning about our local environment in the rock pools, and how we can deliver this content to children in a way that is meaningful to them.”

– Isabel Murry, Year 2 BEd.

It is hoped that, in the future, this course can be made available to practising teachers and educators outside of the University of Plymouth to support professional development and that it may become part of the core offer that our education students receive as part of their degree programmes.
Stu Higgs, Schools Programme Manager for the Ocean Conservation Trust, said:
“Although historically overlooked by the National Curriculum, we know that the ocean is integral to life on earth and understand that embracing our connection to it is essential in maintaining physical, social, and emotional health. Equipping teachers with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to bring the ocean into their classrooms is one of the most important steps we can take towards developing an ocean literate society, for the benefit of all. Working with the University to introduce the next generation of primary school teachers to the concept of ocean literacy, and the joys of teaching about the ocean, has been a real privilege, and something we are very much looking forward to continuing with future. ”

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Education students in class
Students at National Marine Aquarium Plymouth

Developing ocean literacy

Learn more about the ocean by trying our ocean literacy activities.
All of our activities are supported by extensive research from the University of Plymouth and its partners, such as the National Marine Aquarium. We are focused on developing links to promote research, practice and knowledge exchange, particularly around Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE). 
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