The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) has partnered with two local Plymouth schools for students with complex needs to offer tailored visits to assist with their learning and development.
Students from Mount Tamar Special School (aged 5-16) and Longcause Community Special School (aged 8-16) will visit the NMA via a series of scheduled sessions. Led by the NMA's Discovery and Learning team, the students will have the opportunity to discover more about art, science and technology, as well as learn about the many marine animals that reside at the Aquarium and the marine environment.
In addition to scheduled visits, the NMA will provide a respite drop-in service for students, allowing them to visit the Aquarium at any time during the day, to take a break from their school surroundings.
Research conducted by the NMA, in partnership with Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, found that people who spend time watching aquariums and fish tanks could see improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing1. Providing a calming and relaxed atmosphere, the peaceful surroundings of the NMA's exhibits and marine life will be the ideal getaway for students to unwind and focus on their learning.
Nicola Murray, Head of Discovery and Learning at the National Marine Aquarium, commented:
“As an educational charity, we're delighted to partner with Mount Tamar Special School and Longcause Community Special School to offer students a unique learning experience. The NMA provides a stimulating setting for any child to learn in, we hope it will also create a calming and relaxed environment for students with learning disabilities to allow them to focus on their learning. The addition of students being able to drop into the Aquarium when they're not having such a good day will be of real value to them, as well as their teachers.”
Natalie Fallaize, from Longcause Community Special School, said:
“Our children have really engaged with the sessions at the aquarium. They loved the sensory and art activities and researching about different marine animals. Staff were flexible with the needs of our pupils. Our children benefited from going to a new environment where they could apply learning that they have done at school and gained a much deeper understanding of marine life. Having access to the aquarium provides opportunities to develop their life skills which is our main focus. Overall, pupils really enjoyed their sessions and experience at the aquarium.”
Brett Storry, from Mount Tamar Special School, added:
“The partnership with the Aquarium has been a great success in inspiring our students. They are able to develop their interests using a high quality learning environment that enhances their understanding of environmental issues. The older students have had an insight into how a local business works through supported placements. Probably the biggest impact has been the effect of the calming environment on the students particularly when they feel anxious. We often take individuals or groups to the aquarium and just being around the fish tanks has allowed them to calm and focus on their learning.”