Harwich Haven Authority and Boskalis Westminster launch new environment learning programme in Harwich

30 May 2024

Harwich Haven Authority and global marine services provider, Boskalis Westminster, are excited to announce the launch of its new Coastal Discoveries learning programme in Harwich, England.

The jointly funded £50K initiative is set to provide every primary school-aged child, attending a school in the Harwich and Dovercourt area (Tendring, Essex), with the opportunity to experience a Beach School workshop. The Beach-based lessons will be delivered by local teacher and environment champion Libby Scarfe from Seaside Explorers.

An estimated 2,000 children will have the opportunity to learn more about the natural environment, with the hope that their experience will spark the curiosity to explore, create and be interested in the world around them.  The programme will run throughout the Summer and Autumn of 2024.

Every child attending will receive a smart bucket-hat and useful identification cards that will help them spot species along the foreshore.

The Beach School programme for primary-aged children is just one part of the wider Coastal Discoveries initiative that will extend to local community groups, secondary-aged children and organisations such as the Scouts, Guides, Brownies, and Cubs.

Overarching all planned activities, and based on the COP15 30 x 30 initiative, the schools and groups engaging with Coastal Discoveries will be recording what they see, both on the beach and in their own environment, using iNaturalist. The data gathered is accessible to everyone, including academics worldwide, so any inputs are valuable to those investigating both local and global habitats.

“We are very excited to run this programme for children in our community and encourage participation,” says Sarah West, CEO, Harwich Haven Authority.

“As a Trust Port we have no shareholders which allows us to invest our surplus into the Haven for the benefit of our stakeholders. The Coastal Discoveries initiative is an example of how we can both enrich and benefit the younger generation.”

“Aligned to our Environment, Social and Governance Strategy we have been using the Social Value Portal, which is a tool that allows us to measure social value against selected Themes, Outcomes and Measures (TOMs). Our Social Value in 2023 was more than £4.5 million and reflected community projects, employing local people, buying local and reducing our carbon emissions.

“We work closely with Boskalis Westminster who have been awarded our 2024-2025 maintenance dredging contract. Within the contract we, for the first time, included a sustainability clause, which aims to ensure that benefit would be seen by the community of Harwich and Dovercourt from our contractor. Boskalis loved the concept of Coastal Discoveries and the positive impact it will have on local children, so they were delighted to partner with us on this exciting and interesting project”.

Paul de Jong, Managing Director, Boskalis Westminster, added: “Boskalis Westminster has been working in partnership with HHA for many years and the Beach School Programme is an excellent way of investing in the community we work in.

“It is especially pleasing to see such large numbers of children participating and be given the opportunity to investigate their local environment out of the classroom.”

Liz Bartholomew, Head Teacher, Mayflower Primary School commented: “Here at Mayflower, we cannot praise Beach School enough!

“The benefit to our pupils is enormous, not only in terms of getting them learning outside the classroom, but also in terms of the wealth of environmental learning that takes place.

“The children are introduced to the amazing array of wildlife we have on our coastline, and they begin to appreciate the importance of our actions and the impact we have on the environment and our part in supporting it.

“This, of course, fully complements our science and geography curriculums, but it’s more than that…it’s developing their love of the world we live in and doing it in an exciting and stimulating way. “