Atlantic Academy is situated on the beautiful Jurassic coast and surrounded by enviable ocean views and a beach on the doorstep of the school.

It is little surprise then that World Oceans Day on June 8 was a key date in the calendar for our students and this year it has been marked with the launch of Beach School.

Atlantic’s Beach School, which will see weekly beach sessions from September, is designed to not only inspire a love of the outdoor environment but also reinforce academic learning through practical application.

Aimed at Primary and Secondary students at the all-through academy, the Beach School will encourage practical Science, Geography, Maths and English. Pupils will also deepen their pride in Portland’s inspirational and rare coastline.


Our Reception and Year 7 classes spent their first Beach School session roaming on the sand for World Oceans Day 2021

Under the leadership of a qualified Beach School educator, the children spent time discovering and exploring the wildlife on the beach. They found baby crabs, identified baby lobsters and logged details about sea anemones, sea flora and fauna for a national project.

The Time and Tide Bell Charity provided activities including trench digging and understanding the physics behind building dams and sea defences. This is an important lesson for those who live on Portland and the students also identified micro-plastics in the sand, and also took part in a strandline logging activity and a seashell survey.

The children also had the opportunity to learn about using tools safely – an essential part of the Beach School experience – and set to work drilling local oyster and scallop shells to make wind chimes. This gave them the chance to learn about the structures, strengths and weaknesses of the homes of our local wildlife.

Explaining the benefits that students will reap from Beach School, Melissa Heppell, Principal of Atlantic Academy’s Primary School, said: “The NHS Shetland Project identified seven proven benefits of outdoor learning; better health; decreased stress levels; increased motivation; better attitudes towards the environment; enhanced communication skills; increased outdoor skills; independence.

“These are all vital skills for both school and our children’s future, but even more importantly, whilst taking part in some complex learning, we saw our children having fun, taking risks, learning by making mistakes and laughing and smiling through it all.

“I don’t think there can be a better combination for any child. And I look forward to this continuing with our new 2021 cohort.”

The weekly Beach School sessions that start in September will see primary and secondary pupils taking part and feeding into projects run by academic research bodies, including the British Naturalists’ Association, the Marine Biological Association and also local university studies.

The children will also be working with local expert groups and twinning with Brightlingsea Beach School, based in Essex to share learning. We cannot wait to see what our ‘Mini Marine Biologists’ share with us!

Secondary students will see Beach School activities sewn into a unique aspect of our curriculum: Applied Transdisciplinary Learning. The most recent ATL project was about the environment and was the perfect opportunity for Year 7 students to explore man’s influence on the oceans and their role to play in the conservation of our beaches and aquatic ecosystems.

A representative group of Year 7 students conducted a debate for the Year 10 Deputy Head Girl and Boy and are hoping that some of the ideas generated in the Oceans lesson will be put forward to the School Council to consider changes we can make in school.

This work will continue in September when our Year 7 students will look at how plastics break down into micro-plastics and how bio-accumulation means that these micro-plastics build up through the web chain.

In short, aquatic life and birds ingest the micro-plastics and these build up and accumulate in their bodies making them ill. 

Here we shine a spotlight on the array of activities that have taken place to mark World Oceans Day at Atlantic Academy Portland.