Tag Archives: Education

David Gill on the Radio!

Last night, David Gill (our Education Officer) and Jez Mallinson (our Education Volunteer) were talking all about the Wandle and our work on Croydon Radio.

The interview covered all sorts from our education work, Project Kingfisher, to our new project – Discovering the Source of the Wandle. It even included a wooly mammoth and a kingfisher.

Missed it? Never fear, you can listen to the whole session below.

Welcome to Alice and Verity!

We are pleased to welcome Alice Dawes and Verity Thomson to our educational programme Project Kingfisher. Alice and Verity will be working as freelance teachers supporting David Gill, the Education Officer, delivering various aspects of the project to schools throughout the Wandle catchment.


David, Verity and Alice take a break from an educational workshop
(and even saw a kingfisher on the Wandle!)

During the last academic year, David delivered presentations to 23 schools across the Boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth. This year, with Alice and Verity in support, we hope to work with many more schools. Alice is very excited about her new role. She writes:

‘It’s vital to get children learning outdoors and engaging with their local area. The River Wandle creates a vast range of different teaching and learning opportunities’.

Alice and Verity will provide whole school assemblies and class presentations to children of all ages and abilities. They will use puppets, an interpretation board and build a mock river to provide a platform where the students can fully engage with their understanding of the river and its wildlife and how people have used it in the past to the present day. The presentations conclude with the children and young people understanding that we all have a role in looking after our local river.

Project Kingfisher also offers the opportunities for schools to look after creatures from the river – we bring the Wandle into the classroom. They can look after plants (grown in a tyre pond), freshwater shrimps, tadpoles or sticklebacks (in fish tanks).

Stickleback as male

Male stickleback

The children will use the creatures to understand much more about living and non-living things, habitats, life cycles, food chains and food webs and adaptations – and all linked to the requirements of the National Curriculum (that the teachers like!)

Verity writes:

‘I first heard about Project Kingfisher from my daughter who had some ‘strange creatures in the classroom’. There’s only so much you can wheedle out of a five-year-old, but I found out much more when I joined the children and walked down to Butter Hill to release the freshwater shrimps back in to the River Wandle’.

Verity goes on:

‘The whole project was such a wonderful experience for the kids, and they really enjoyed the release event on the river. Each child took a turn to fish a shrimp out of the bucket with their net and set it free into the Wandle’.

What better way can you get the message across that their local river must be valued? It tells the children that the river is the home to so many creatures and we need to help look after it now and in the future.

Alice adds:

‘We will be taking the classroom to the Wandle too – we want to engage children in a whole range of different activities and learning opportunities and let them see the river for themselves.’

We play lots of river-related games – one called Crocodile River (!), another called Duck Pond – all designed to be fun but have some important learning outcomes associated with them. The children will make decisions, learn to work as a team, follow written instructions and can create a map of their surroundings. Find out more about Window on the Wandle here.


Children constructing an animal home next to the ‘river’

David sees Alice and Verity bringing much more to Project Kingfisher. He writes:

‘Up until this time the Project has been all about my teaching and learning ideas. I am really looking forward to seeing what Alice and Verity bring to the party. They are both experienced teachers so I am confident they will only enhance and build upon what we have done so far. These are very exciting times!’

Verity sums up her new role: ‘We want to get more schools out of the classroom and down to the river, where they might just spot a kingfisher or a brown trout as we ourselves did last week…’

Now that’s the WOW factor we need! Why? Because it stays with you for life…

New Project: Discovering the Source of the Wandle

The Wandle Trust is embarking on an exciting new project to research and understand the source of the river and how it has moved over time.

River Wandle

The River Wandle, Beddington Park in early spring

What is the source of the Wandle?

The source of the River Wandle is found where two rocks – chalk and clay – meet. This occurs in our local area along an east to west to line starting in Croydon, going through Wallington and Carshalton to Esher.

Geological Map of Surrey

A simplified geological map of North East Surrey

Chalk makes up the North Downs, shown in light blue on our simplified map. Chalk has the capacity to allow water to flow through it so when rain falls it soaks into the rock as if it’s a sponge. As a result the water builds up within the chalk to create huge underground reservoirs called aquifers.

Overlaying the chalk is clay – shown in dark blue on our simplified map. Unlike chalk, clay does not allow water to flow through it. As a result rainfall flows across the surface of the clay rather than flowing down in to it.

Our east-west line marks where the chalk and the clay meet. Along this line any water held in the chalk aquifer is forced to come to the surface, creating the spring sources we know and love on the Wandle.

Waddon Mills

How does the source of a river move?

The sources of the River Wandle has changed its position over time.

One theory suggests that the River Wandle once started near the village of Merstham in Surrey (south of the M25!) but was ‘captured’ by the River Mole. This is going back to the time when the climate was a lot colder than it is today – back in the Ice Age when mammoths were strolling around your back garden.

We do know from the shape of the North Downs – (the hills that now separate Merstham from Carshalton and Croydon) – that they have been shaped by water action. Look at the ‘dry valleys’ around Woodmansterne, Coulsdon and Caterham.

Dry Valley

Happy Valley near Farthing Downs, Coulsdon showing a typical ‘dry valley’ on the North Downs

Back in the Ice Age the climate was very different to what we have today…

Imagine where we live today looking more like the Alaskan tundra – sub-zero temperatures, freezing cold arctic winds and most importantly frozen ground. The chalk, which today allows water to flow through it, was then permanently frozen (called permafrost). When snow and ice melted in the summer, the rocks and soil could not allow the water to flow down through them. The water flowed across the land surface instead, and eroded the ‘dry valleys’ we can still see today.

But the story doesn’t end there – because we’re all still having an effect on the position of the Wandle’s spring line.

People use water. Where does our water come from? From those underground aquifers of water caught inside the chalk.

As there are now more and more people using more and more water, it is being taken out of those underground reserves. What happens next? Instead of water bubbling out all along our west-east line in many places the springs have simply dried up as water is ‘over abstracted’ from the underground aquifer.

People have also built houses, roads and factories. As a result our east-west line has disappeared under concrete – the river is now flowing underground under all this stuff.

Go to Wandle Park in Croydon and you can see efforts to bring the River Wandle back to the surface where it was previously culverted under the park.

Wandle Park, Croydon

An Autumn Scene – The River Wandle in Wandle Park, Croydon

So we know that the source of the River Wandle has changed over time, and is still continuing to change – some of these changes are natural (ice age, permafrost, mammoths) whilst others are not (abstraction and concrete).

Will it change in the future? Who knows? Very likely, some would say – our population of people is likely to increase, so we’re going to need more houses and roads and need more water. We think too that the climate is changing – what impact will this bring to the source of our local river?

Who remembers the floods in Purley back in 2014? Is this a sign of the future?


Discovering the Source of the Wandle – The Project

The Wandle Trust will work with local volunteers to research the source of the River Wandle and how it has changed over time – this will include using archived material, geological maps, photographic evidence and oral histories. The project will use resources in libraries and other local sources.

How can you help?

Contact Project Officer David Gill to show your interest. Let him know your particular areas of interest and any areas of relevant skills and knowledge you might possess.

David can be contacted at david.gill@wandletrust.org or you can call his mobile on 07468 529 312.

Do keep looking for updates on our Wandle website (www.wandletrust.org) and Twitter: #DiscovertheSource

The project is funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme aims to bring people closer to their local river.

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Freelance Teachers Wanted

Project KingfisherAs part of our new education programme, Project Kingfisher, we are looking to recruit two freelance teachers on the River Wandle.

Project Kingfisher is designed to raise awareness about the River Wandle by engaging children and young people with the river and incorporating it into their lessons. It has been funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

Last year Project Kingfisher engaged nearly 4000 students, visiting 23 schools in the Wandle catchment. We hope to exceed this in the next academic year and the freelance teachers will play a large role in this, enabling delivery of the project to more schools. More information on Project Kingfisher can be found on our website: www.wandletrust.org/education

To find out more about the available positions, download our Role Description below.

Freelance Teacher Role Description

Details on how to apply can be found on the role description. The application deadline is Monday 24th October at noon, with interviews likely to take place the week commencing 31st October.

If you have any questions about the role or application process, please call our Education Officer on 07468 529 312 or email david.gill@wandletrust.org

Shrimp Release

Shrimps in Schools: Release Day!

Tuesday was a big day for the students of All Saints Carshalton Primary School!

Shrimp Release

After signing up to our new Creatures in the Classroom project, the Year 1 class were given a tank filled with rocks, stones, sand and aquatic plants to replicate the natural habitat of the freshwater shrimps which were delivered a couple of weeks later.

Over the last month, the students have been caring for the shrimps, learning about the River Wandle, and taking responsibility for the ongoing care and welfare of the shrimps.

After school on Tuesday, the class gathered at Butter Hill in Carshalton to say goodbye to their shrimps and release them back into the Wandle. Each student had a go at catching some shrimps in a small net, and passing them to David Gill, the Education Officer, to release them into the Wandle.

Shrimp Release

Shrimp Release

Shrimp Release

Creatures in the Classroom is part of Project Kingfisher, a new education project from the Wandle Trust funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

This year, 25 schools like All Saints Primary School have taken part in Creatures in the Classroom raising sticklebacks and tadpoles, creating tyre ponds and looking after shrimps.

This spring we will be launching Window on the Wandle all about bringing students to the River Wandle to learn about its history, wildlife and future. Education packs for this will soon be available so watch this space!

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Wandle Cleanup: August 2015: Sutton

The one where we cooked in our waders…..

This August was the first of our Capital Cleanups, kindly funded by the Mayor of London Capital Cleanup fund, held in Beddington Park on a very, very sunny and hot day. Not ideal weather for waders or wellies.


Rose was kind enough to help me load the van for this event, and I was thankful to have her with me as I turned up to site to find a car boot sale blocking the road. Luckily we squeezed the van through and set up in our usual spot ready for everyone to arrive.

This month we divided into three teams: the wading team; their wader support and balsam bashers. Theo had found several patches of Himalayan balsam in the park which he was keen to get on top of.

Within 20 minutes of sending the waders off to the river, they returned with two trolleys – not what I was expecting from a seemingly clear stretch of the Wandle! We were wondering if Asda would be wanting these back…


Soon more and more rubbish was coming out: tyres, pitch fork, metal fencing, large pieces of wood. For a narrow stretch of the river, it didn’t disappoint.

Rubbish pile building..

Behind the wading team, Theo and a couple of others were checking for individual Himalayan plants on the river bank to ensure we swept the whole park clean.

Balsam Hunting

While this was going on, a brave team tackled a large infestation further into the park where the balsam was the height of trees and the stems were the thickest we’d ever seen them. A true balsam jungle amongst the nettles.

Balsam Bashers

Wheel Barrow RelaxationBy lunchtime we were all very hot and ready for a cool drink. Jackie had kindly made us some jam tarts and I had baked three chocolate cakes which I then packaged to look like they had in fact been purchased… it’s the small touches.

After lunch we reluctantly put our waders and wellies back on and got back in the river. The wading team had cleared the river before lunchtime so after lunch we all focused on the balsam.

With the bulk of it removed, we were looking for smaller plants in the undergrowth which we wanted to catch before they set seed for another year. It took a little while to get our eyes honed in, but sure enough there were plenty hiding in the nettle jungle.


With Beddington Park cleared of balsam (for this year anyway) and rubbish we decided to finish a bit early to cool off.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along and tolerated the heat for our event!

Finished Pile

So what did we find?  1 pitch fork, 1 paint tub, 1 watercolour set, 1 scooter seat, 1 wooden chair, 1 hamster cage, 1 tyre, 2 buckets, 2 Asda trolleys, 3 set of tea china, 4 coconuts, 8 large pieces of wood, steel roofing, plenty of metal fencing, 25 bags of other junk and barrows and barrows of Himalayan balsam.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and Rose for helping me load and unload; Jackie for catering for our volunteers; Rose for supervising the Event Tent; Chris, Wally, Theo & Dave for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Charles, Chris, Daniel, Dave, David, Denis, Derek, Fred, George, Gillian, Graham, Helen, Hugo, Ian, James, Jamie, Joe, John, Karoline, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Lois, Louise, Mark, Mike, Neil, Per, Phil, Richard, Rob, Ruth, Sally Ann, Theo, Tom K, Victor and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Sunshine and chest waders are not a great mix.

Barrow of Balsam

All photos kindly taken by Sally Ann Symis

Welcome to our new Education Officer!

The Wandle Trust is proud to introduce David Gill as our new Education Officer.

David Gill - Education OfficerDavid is going to be responsible for following on from the very successful ‘Trout in the Classroom’ programme that we ended last year.

We’ll aim to draw on David’s extensive experiences of working in the classroom to create a very innovative teaching and learning package that will engage children and young people throughout the catchment of the Wandle. A project that is possible through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, funded by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund.

David has been teaching for over twenty years and has taught everyone from pre-school to adults! He has travelled around the world for both business and for pleasure. David also works as an Education Officer for a local wildlife trust where he initiates and develops Programmes of Study in line with the revised National Curriculum. He is particularly interested in the incorporation of information technology in to environmental learning.

David completed his degree in Environmental Sciences at UEA in Norwich before embarking on his Post Graduate Certificate of Education in secondary school geography and sciences. His classroom experiences include teaching in a remote jungle school in Papua New Guinea, working with street children in Southern India and tutoring via the radio in the Australian outback.

David says ‘I am looking forward to the challenges of this exciting job – I hope that in working with schools we can increase the awareness of the Wandle in to the lives of local children and their families in a fun and practical way’.


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Monitoring Madness

Olly and I have taken a successful sample set from one of our Downstream Defender silt traps in Carshalton and the results look promising…

In 2013 we installed a suite of 3 Downstream Defenders as a pollution prevention method, cleaning surface water before it enters the river. This week has seen a few periods of extreme rain downfall and Olly braved the weather to look at the effect on the river.

As we know, rainwater is collected off our roads and channeled into the river by our surface water drains. Unfortunately with the rainwater goes all the other contaminants from the roads. This causes a first flush of pollution down the Wandle.

FirstFlush black wandle

Our Downstream Defenders are designed to reduce the severity of this first flush by removing some of the worst of the pollutants before they enter the Wandle.

Today we took samples of the water upstream of one of our Defenders (before) and downstream (after) to see what difference it is making to the water quality. The samples have been sent off to the lab and will not be back for a couple of months, but for now look at the difference in colour alone!



Wandle cleanup: March 2015: Sutton

The one with 200 car tyres 

So March saw us return to Poulter Park in Sutton for a spring clean. Our event was supported by the Big Green Fund, with 48 volunteers attending to litter pick, wade and plant trees in the park. It was a busy busy day!

What’s the Big Green Fund?

With so many jobs to do we divided into 3 teams: waders and their support, litter pickers and tree planters. Peter Wilkinson (BGF Project) led the tree planters armed with spades (which I have learnt are different from shovels) and over 200 tree saplings to the chosen sites marked out with paint.

Planting Areas

Meanwhile litter pickers were dispatched and waders hopped in the Wandle with team leader Theo. Pretty soon our wading team discovered a shocking number of tyres in the Wandle. It started with 5 being pulled out, which was crazy enough. But every time I came back to check on everyone there were more and more. The total at lunch was close to 60!


As well as tyres we found other car parts including 2 car seats, a dashboard and licence plate. Which gave us an idea….


The litter pickers had their work cut out with bottles, cans and crisp packets carpeting the undergrowth in the park. By the time we stopped for lunch the rubbish pile was already one of the biggest yet and the park was looking much cleaner already. Sally made us a delicious Easter cake with mini eggs on top and Jana brought a homemade ginger cake and cupcakes; all of which we were very grateful for. And one of our volunteers was prepared with a Chinese takeout for their lunch!

Chinese takeout!

After lunch we got right back to it. The tree planters finished off their third area having planted a total of 210 saplings. They then joined to help shift all the tyres we were finding. We never got an exact count but it was over 200! We all had different tactics to get the tyres to the rubbish pile. Some used wheel barrows, some carried two like body builders and some rolled them all the way there.


Although the tyres were the star of the day, we made several other discoveries including a set of 3 silver trophies!


By 3 o’ clock we were exhausted and ready for home so we packed up the van and left the huge rubbish pile and 200 tyres for Sutton Council to collect in the morning – many thanks to them for organising this for us.


So what did we find? 1 net, 1 table leg, 1 coffee machine with instructions, 1 boat oar, 1 diving shoe, 1 pram, 1 gas meter, 1 car dashboard, 1 watering can, 1 bucket, 1 tool kit minus the tools, 1 traffic cone, 2 stuffed animal toys, 3 trophies, 4 car seats, several bits of scaffolding, lots of random metal and piping, fencing, 50 bags of other rubbish and a record breaking 200 tyres!

Huge thanks to Michael who met me in the morning to load up the van;  Sally and Jana for catering for our volunteers; Theo and John for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Alan, Alex, Barry, Bruno, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Elliott, Gearoid, Helen, Ian, Jamie, Jan, Jana, Janet, Jason, Joe, John B, John L, John N, Ken, Lauren, Lloyd, Mark, Michael B, Michael H, Nicola, Per, Rob, Rose, Sally, Stewart, Theo, Tom, Tony and Victor.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you never know what surprises the Wandle will have in store for you.

 Eel tally: 1

Recruiting: Part-time River Education Officer


We are recruiting a brand new position at the Wandle Trust!

This part-time Education Officer role will deliver our Living Wandle Landscape Partnership Scheme Education project. The role will involve developing education packs about the River Wandle and a ‘Wandle in the Classroom’ programme to enable school children to help rear river plants and animals and release them into the Wandle.

Further details are available here: EducationOfficer_JobDescriptionFeb2015.

To apply, please send email a CV (2 pages max) and a covering letter (2 pages max) focusing on your relevant experience, knowledge and skills, before 5pm on Monday 6th April.

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