School Education Programmes

WCSRT are passionate about educating the public about our beautiful chalk streams. One of the aims of the Trust is to educate school children about the history, national importance and wildlife of chalk streams. We offer low cost education programmes to schools and youth groups to match our aims and improve knowledge of our rivers throughout the Wessex area.

There are four main programmes schools can choose from:

Introduction Assembly

This interactive assembly introduces pupils to their local river.  They will be taken on a journey from source to sea to discover what creatures can be found along the way!  The assembly lasts half an hour. It is suitable for any primary school age group, and can be delivered to the whole school, targeted year groups or split across key stages. If booking more than one assembly, please book them so that they run consecutively but allow 20 minutes between assemblies to reset resources. They can be run any time of the day, just tell us your preferred times on the booking form.

River Session

Our outdoor river sessions take place in or by a river close to your school. The session teaches the children about the history of their river, the importance of the river and what wildlife lurks under the surface. They will get experience handling and identifying freshwater invertebrates within a kick sample taken from the river. If access to the river is good the children could be offered the chance to paddle in the river themselves and take their own kick sample.

Classroom Session

If you do not have access to a local river, cannot travel to site, extreme weather disrupts an outdoor session, or you want a follow up session we can offer a classroom-based session.

The classroom session can look at the history of the local river, the importance of them and what wildlife lurks under the surface. A live sample can be brought into the classroom where pupils can study freshwater invertebrates first-hand. If an extension to the outdoor river session, pupils can take a closer look at the sample, create pieces of art or make presentations to teach other children within the school.

Mayfly in the Classroom

This education programme offers a fantastic way of learning about and caring for our chalk stream wildlife. Mayfly are indicator species of a healthy river system and children will get the opportunity to raise them in their own classroom before releasing them back into the river. This in turn will provide the children with a sense of ownership of their local river, leading to them caring more about the ecosystem as a whole.

For more information and a booking form please contact our Education Officer Amy Ellis (
                    Children drawing invertebrates             Class drawing invertebrates towards the end of the lesson

Community Engagement & Events

We will be rolling out a programme of pop-up events next to rivers in urban areas to raise awareness to the general public. We will look at the wildlife that lives in middle of our towns and cities with tips on how to help your river be a healthy place. Please contact Amy Ells ( if you would like to find out more or know of any locations where we can reach lots of people.

We will also provide activities, information and inspiration at other planned local events such as the Five Rivers Festival, the New Forest Show and the Salisbury Play Day.  If you would like us to attend an event you are organising please let our Education Officer Amy Ellis know (

Winchester College River Project

In 2015, the WCSRT began collaborating with Winchester College and local primary schools on an environmental education programme to introduce pupils to the River Itchen and help teach them about their local chalk river systems and all the wonderful wildlife these rivers support.

Each school term, 100-200 pupils from Winchester-based primary schools benefit from the programme, which includes a preliminary lecture by the Winchester College teaching staff, followed by both laboratory and field visits to the River Itchen in the College grounds to collect and identify small fish and invertebrates from the river and introduce the youngster to the basic concepts of river hydrology.

The enthusiasm and interest shown by the children is boundless and often this has to be sustained during cold and wet early springtime or autumn weather. Highlights from the visits include the temporary capture and inspection of sticklebacks, minnows, bullheads, stone loach, mayfly and damsel fly nymphs, shrimps, snails, leeches and caddis larvae: much to inspire young minds! We are often fortunate to have the help of TV wildlife presenter, Nick Baker who is the Fellow of Natural History at the College.

Please contact Amy Ellis to get your school involved or to request more information. 


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You can help your local river by making a donation to support the work of the Wessex Chalk Stream & Rivers Trust.

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