Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Staffordshire school kids take to the water to explore their local history

Pupils from St. Peter’s Church of England Primary School in Hixon near Stafford had a history lesson with a difference after their teacher won a free boat trip on their local canal.

The children from year groups 1 and 2 enjoyed a morning on the 200-year old Shropshire Union Canal where they were able to learn about their local history, wildlife and how to stay safe beside the water.

The day was all part of a competition run by our education team at the 2014 Education Show at Birmingham's NEC. St Peters teacher, Miss Laura Hopcroft, entered and was delighted to have been drawn out of the hat.

Two-hour cruise

As part of their prize, the 27 children boarded a 70ft narrowboat at Norbury Junction and enjoyed a two-hour cruise along the canal. During the trip, our local education team of Explorers from Stoke-on-Trent, taught the children about the history of the canal and helped them to spot wildlife as they chugged along at 4mph. The trip followed a recent classroom activity in which the volunteers helped the children to build their own canal and explained the importance of water safety.

Miss Hopcroft said: “I was thrilled to win the competition and I'm really pleased that the children had an enjoyable day. We're studying the Victorians at the moment and so it's great to bring the subject to life and encourage them to think about what their local canal would have been like at this time. It was a really fun way for the children to explore their local history, and the environment around them, and I hope it's something that they remember for a long time.”

Fun-filled lessons

Canal & River Explorers, is linked to the National Curriculum and aims to teach the Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 age group about the wonders of their local waterways but also, importantly, how to enjoy them safely. The programme sees qualified, locally-based, education volunteers going into schools giving fun-filled lessons.

Sarah Cook, education coordinator for the Trust, said: “It's always great to see the kids having a really good time and a trip to the canal is a lovely way of getting their imaginations going. We love welcoming schools to our waterways and telling them all about how they were built and the role they played in developing the places where we live today.

"It's also great to point out the fantastic wildlife that they can see while they're with us. The St Peters kids certainly made the most of their day and we'd love to hear from other schools who may be interested in heading out to their local canal in 2015 or enjoying a fun-filled classroom visit this winter.”

Online games and activities

As well as the in-school activities Canal & River Explorers also has a website full of fun games and activities for kids to have a go at. The site also has a range of resources for schools, organised groups and families to use to get the most out of a visit to their local canal or river. For more information visit

Teachers or group leaders interested in arranging a waterside visit for 2015 or booking our water safety assembly this winter can do so by emailing Sarah Cook [email protected] or call her on 07715 377788.

Last Edited: 29 October 2014

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration