Sun, surf and sand inspire students - St Mary's Anglican Girls' School

Sun, surf and sand inspire students

POSTED June 14 2022 , News

If you are fortunate enough to have a world-class beach on your doorstep, why wouldn’t you use it? That is the exact thought that crossed the minds of Year 3 teachers, Rose Brades and Wayne Ritzema, at the beginning of the school year.

Having witnessed the success of St Mary’s Bush School, which provides our Kindergarten to Year 2 students with opportunities to hone their problem-solving skills, think creatively and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the environment while exploring the school’s neighbouring bushland, the Year 3 teachers were determined to develop a program that would see their students similarly benefit from learning in a setting beyond the classroom. Thus, Beach School was born.

With the help of the School’s Head of Outdoor Education, Brad Stewart, they drew up a plan for a program that would have the girls visit Trigg Beach every Friday to enjoy a series of fun and educative experiences that were tied to the Junior School’s overarching learning assets: we are self-managers, thinkers, researchers, collaborators and communicators.

Throughout Term 1, the students learned about beach safety and taking calculated risks, created sandcastles from scratch, enjoyed a scavenger hunt, tried their hand at bodyboarding, undertook a marine biology survey and completed basic first aid training with the assistance of staff from the Trigg Island Surf Life Saving Club.

Rose said that Beach School had been a transformative experience for many of her students.

“The girls have been 100 per cent pushing themselves outside their comfort zones and they are thriving because of it,” she said.

“Not only have they learnt a whole new range of skills, but they have also built a community within the classroom off the back of their experiences at the beach.

“Beach School has taught the girls the value of working together and with different people. They have been encouraged to work with different people and learn the challenges and skills that come with that experience. It is representative of life, working with people who are not close friends or in your inner circle.

“Through that experience they have identified each other’s strengths and come back into the classroom and worked together to achieve positive outcomes.”

Rose said that the girls often returned from Beach School smiling ear-to-ear after acquiring a new skill or making a new friend.

“The kids have had an absolute blast and I’ve had emails from several parents saying that their daughters were absolutely buzzing when they got home after a Beach School lesson,” she said.

“It is a program that is evolving. The School has built up some amazing relationships with local experts and community groups and we would love to involve them in Beach School moving forward.”