Tag Archives: Trout in the Classroom

Trout in the Classroom: Ten years old and still going strong!

At 10.30am on Wednesday 30 March, pupils from six of our participating Trout in the Classroom schools gathered at Hackbridge to release their carefully and diligently nurtured trout fry into the River Wandle. 

All those present were also there to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the inception of this project in 2001 – a decade of learning about the importance of a healthy river and the life-cycle of the wild brown trout:

At the beginning of the morning the children gathered on the green and peered into each others’ buckets to compare their baby trout and swap fish rearing tips:

In fact this has turned out to be the best year ever for survival rates with all the schools having over fifty fish fry at the release stage and some considerably more!  Notwithstanding the usual challenges of equipment malfunctions and blocked filters.

Many local councillors attended the event and the introductory speech was given by our guest of honour Mr Sean Brennan, the Leader of Sutton Council:

Sutton Council have big plans for the regeneration of the whole of the Hackbridge area as part of the Hackbridge Masterplan, and the Wandle Trust has been working closely with Peter O’Connell and other Council officers to make sure river restoration is also part of this project.

After the speeches it was time for each school to release their trout. The students donned their waders and life jackets and were helped into the water by Wandle Trust volunteers:

The whole crowd counted down and then cheered as the pupils tilted their buckets and the young fish finally swam free:

I was particularly aware of how excitedly the children spoke about how it felt to wade in the water.  For most of them it was the first time they had ever done experienced anything like this. Like my own memories of a school trip to a waterway I’m sure many of them will remember this for a lifetime!

In a rather untimely manner OFSTED chose to visit Benedict School on this very morning which meant the school couldn’t take part in the first release event. Benedict were very happy though to have their own tailor made release, including a nature walk along the Wandle, the following week on Thursday 7 April. 

Articles about our Trout in the Classroom trout releases appeared in several local papers. Please click here to read one of these.

This year the volunteers who helped were: Andrew, Jez, Jim, John, Peter, Sally, Sally-Anne, Susan and Theo. I would also like to extend my thanks to all the volunteers who have supported our schools over the last ten years. Without them this project wouldn’t be possible.

Linden Lodge wins the Wandle Trust’s Carbon Footprint Competition

Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth Councillor Jane Cooper presents Linden Lodge School with first prize!

Our flagship ecological education project, Trout in the Classroom, has many environmental benefits but we are always looking for new ways of reducing its carbon footprint. Last year we ran a carbon balancing competition for the schools taking part.

Karen Gardiner, from the winning school Linden Lodge reports:

“The brown trout eggs arrived in January and were looked after, as they developed into swim-up fry, for two half terms by Key Stage 3 students. The pupils mostly enjoyed this but their least favourite job was removing the trout faeces or poo as they called it.

The project group estimated that they must have used 81 litres of water during the project. They decided they wanted to get some of this back – and held a special water saving week to try to achieve this. Some of the ideas the pupils came up with for saving water were: 

Don’t sing in the shower! You take longer. But a shower is much better than having a bath for saving water. Our slogan was ‘Sing in the rain – not the shower!’

Use the left over drinking water to water the garden and indoor plants. 

Recycle the old fish water – also very good for plants.

All our water saving endeavours won us the Wandle Trust Carbon Footprint Prize. We decided to put the money towards a specially commissioned tactile wall display of the life cycle of the brown trout to help our visually impaired students understand the process”.

Trout in the Classroom project teacher Launa Randels and a victorious student admire the tactile display.

The display was created by Linda Marshal, an artist who has worked at Linden Lodge for many years supporting young people with a visual impairment. She has used this experience to produce a range of tactile pictures which bring life and meaning to children who have complex needs. Karen continues:

“Linda is really inspirational in the way she gives children tactile awareness and helps them navigate their world. When people visit the school they see children exploring their environment with her tactile references. Much of Linda’s work is unique to Linden Lodge. She uses everyday materials in an imaginative and creative way and her use of colour, shape and texture makes objects come alive which stimulates children to feel, touch and smell.

We really want to thank everyone who took part in our water-saving week and helped us to win the Wandle Trust’s Carbon Footprint Prize!”

About Linden Lodge School
Linden Lodge School provides a high quality educational experience and support for pupils with a visual impairment or multi-disabled visual impairment which affects their access to learning. The school also supports pupils with profound and multiple learning difficulties.  Linden Lodge has been recognised as a specialist regional resource and caters for children aged 3 to 19. The school is situated in Wimbledon.

The Wandle makes the news again… and a Happy New Year to all our supporters!

(Image credit)

As 2010 slips away into 2011, the Wandle scores a double mention in The Independent‘s end-of-year roundup of river news.

Michael McCarthy’s piece celebrates the general improvement of the Thames and Britain’s other waterways

“A generation ago many British rivers were little better than foul-smelling drains. Such channels of untreated pollution are now largely a thing of the past, thanks to policing by the [Environment Agency] and investment by water companies (and also to the fact that most of Britain’s heavy, old-fashioned smokestack industry, once the major pollution source, has disappeared)”

… whilst community cleanup volunteer Victoria Summerley tells of her enlightening experiences at the Wandle Trust’s events, and helps to spread the word that…

“…the trout are back [in the Wandle], released into the river each year by local schoolchildren who raise the fry under the Wandle Trust’s Trout in the Classroom scheme.

The trust, in partnership with a whole host of organisations ranging from local boroughs to the Environment Agency and fishing clubs, oversees the health of the river and organises regular clean-ups. These, sadly, are necessary because although the Wandle is no longer polluted by dyes and chemicals, it is used a dumping ground for tyres, supermarket trolleys, and any other items of household detritus people can’t be bothered to take to the tip.

We may have legislated to prevent industry releasing waste into our waterways but we still have to educate the general public that “river” does not spell “dustbin”.

Here on the Wandle, we’re proud to be at the heart of efforts to improve the health of Britain’s rivers, so it’s no coincidence that our next community river cleanup is on Sunday 9 January in Sutton (and here’s what it looked like last year!)

A very Happy New Year to all the Wandle’s supporters… and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Update: the debate on the health of water bodies in England and Wales continues here in the Guardian’s Environment Blog.

Avenue Primary School: helping the Wandle’s wild brown trout

When it comes to environmental education, Avenue Primary School in Sutton is right at the top of the class.

85 per cent of its pupils walk to school, teachers run projects to encourage cycling (and recycling) – and there’s even a kids’ squad of Eco reps who make sure no energy is wasted.  

Best of all, our regular community cleanup volunteer Abi Johns leads the school’s participation in our annual Trout in the Classroom programmeso it was no surprise that Avenue Primary won ‘Green Primary School of the Year’ at this year’s Sutton Green Guardian Awards!

Here’s what Angus, Ben and Dan from Abi’s class wrote about their Trout in the Classroom release day this year:

On Thursday 18 March, some of the Eco reps and the winners of the trout competition went to the River Wandle. When we got there the year 6 Eco reps had to put on waterproof waders and a life jacket. We finally got to go into the river with the trout.

The water pressure squeezed our legs when we got in. It felt really strange like the water actually going into the waders. Before we put the trout into the river we had picture taken of us holding the trout.

Finally we got to lower the box into the water. The trout were free! Once we had got out and taken the equipment off we went back to school. It was great knowing that we had helped the River Wandle’s wild brown trout.  

You can also click here to watch Abi’s film of Avenue Primary’s trout release

A big gold star for Miss Johns from all of us at the Wandle Trust!

Trout in the Classroom release days 2010

As in previous years our 2010 schools’ trout release days on the Wandle turned out to be exciting and eventful.  

On Thursday 8 March at 10.30am in the morning we gathered at a new venue for our trout releases – a stretch of the river in front of Sainsbury’s and M&S on Merton High Street. It was great to create such a stir amongst local people going about their usual business.

In the afternoon it was off to the Hackbridge in Sutton, a few hundred yards downstream from where earlier generations of Trout in the Classroom have just begun to breed successfully.

We were lucky to be blessed with lovely early spring weather throughout the day.

The following Thursday 25 March we had a full day on the Wandle at the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park.

In the morning it was predominantly Wandsworth schools releasing their fish, and we were delighted to have the Deputy Mayor of Wandsworth as our guest of honour. Councillor Jane Cooper was a terrific sport – even getting into the river to help whilst still wearing her mayoral chain to pose for photos.

Honeywell School as usual made the most of the opportunity to show real theatricality. 

What must the residents of Morden town have thought as the pupils and teachers paraded from the tube station in their fancy dress, sporting banners and carrying their precious bucket of trout fry?

This year in addition to the usual class work the project included a Carbon Balancing competition. Participants were invited to work out and then instigate ways in which Trout in the Classroom could reduce the amount of carbon fuels it uses. 

Winners of the competition were Linden Lodge from Wimbledon who ran a water saving week which highlighted the importance of saving water at home and at school. The prize of £250 was very generously donated by Wandle Trust supporter Roger Stevens.

The Croydon schools arrived at Morden Hall Park after lunch.  No one was put off by the intermittent rain which fell throughout the day.

Many of our project partners, friends and volunteers attended throughout these two weeks, as well as representatives from our sponsors including Thames Water and Penta Consulting. We extend our thanks to them and all our supporters. 

As we gathered at the end of the day we all agreed that it was great to see our local children and young people making a difference to the environment as part of Trout in the Classroom and the Living Wandle project!

A trout to echo round the world…

With this year’s Trout in the Classroom schools releases just days away, breaking news from our sister fishing club’s award-winning Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative: trout are breeding successfully in the Wandle, and for the very first time one of their tiny fry has been photographed at Hackbridge.

As the Wandle Piscators’ news piece says:

It’s a brilliant vindication of the Wandle Trust’s and Wandle Piscators’ strategy to work with the Environment Agency, the Wild Trout Trust and many other partners to improve adult and juvenile habitat for all fish species on this stretch of the Wandle – and a massive boost for our ongoing mission to improve water quality, clean gravels, and open up fish passage throughout the river.

Read the full story here…

… and keep an eye out for even more opportunities in coming months to get involved in our work with the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust on the upper Wandle: reducing weirs, installing large woody debris, all sorts of hands-on, wet-wellied habitat-creating fun!

Trout in the snowdrifts!

On Thursday 7 January, with all the Trout in the Classroom aquarium hatcheries set up in our 19 schools, and our pupils expectantly waiting for their trouty charges, we encountered two unexpected problems.

It was egg delivery day – but the eggs, which were beginning to hatch, were snowed in at the Environment Agency’s Sparsholt College in Hampshire. And most of the schools in the Wandle Valley were also closed due to the bad weather.

Thankfully, a thaw enabled Roger and me to dash down the A3 on the following Tuesday.  We still needed the use of a tractor to get across the snowy fields and down to the hatchery as the access road was blocked. 

With the help of our hastily reassembled team of volunteers, gathered for the off at Morden Hall Park, we managed to get around all the schools before dusk. Each school received its quota, even though our volunteers now had to deliver watery bags full of newly emerged alevin instead of eggs.

This year for the first time we formally recruited a team of volunteers through our own website, environmental jobs websites and our four boroughs’ volunteer bureaus.  These 20 dedicated assistants are really enhancing our project this year. They have been sharing their expertise with the thousands of fascinated pupils.

Thanks to all the team: David Alford, John Atkinson, Sue Bailey, Petra Barnby, Kalpna Desai, Chris Dodge, Jane Gardiner, Alasdair Hendry, Andrew Hutchinson, Sara Marshall, John O’Brien, Ben Roth, Marie Sanchez, Roger Stevens, Peter Treagust, Gary Renton, and Carole White.

Thanks also to Richard Mundy and the senior boys at Sutton Grammar, Andrew and Dominic, as well as Alan Black at Sparsholt, and Erica Evans here at the Wandle Trust.

Trout in the Classroom 2009 – 10: calling all volunteers!

Once again, the new Trout in the Classroom season is almost upon us, and we’re hoping for an even more successful year than 2008 – 09, when we reached out to more than 9,000 kids of all ages in schools along the Wandle Valley (click here to read our report if you haven’t already seen it).

But Gideon and the rest of us can’t do it all on our own… so we need volunteers to help us set up tanks and offer occasional support to the schools over the course of this exciting educational programme. Here’s what we’re looking for:

The role

We are looking for around 10 enthusiastic and keen volunteers to assist our Trout in the Classroom Project Manager in setting up 20 trout hatching units and offer ongoing support to the schools until the project ends.  You will have a reasonable level of fitness, a practical outlook and be able to work on your own initiative.  You will have a friendly, outgoing nature, be willing to learn and have an interest in rivers/wildlife/fish etc.  No previous experience is necessary as full training will be given.   A full driving licence is essential.  We will reimburse travel costs up to a 10 mile radius of the Wandle Valley.   Applicants must be prepared to be CRB checked. 

What’s in it for you?

As well as an opportunity to gain hands on experience in environment and nature conservation work you will get:

  •  The chance to have fun doing something you’ve never tried before
  • A sense of satisfaction and achievement
  • The opportunity to make new friends and contacts with diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Increased confidence, job and career prospects
  • The opportunity to learn new skills

Interested? If so, please get in touch with us!

Trout in the Town: spreading the word

Last weekend Gideon and I took the train up to Sheffield – and the first ever Trout in the Town Urban River Conclave – to bring the Wandle Trust perspective to what promised to be a fascinating weekend organised by the edgy urban arm (or would that be fin?) of the Wild Trout Trust.


And fascinating it proved, with many long-awaited meetings of like minds – and faces finally put to blog posts, email addresses, and half-heard rumours of trouty commitment out there in the urban badlands.


Thanks to our local guides, SPRITE leader John Blewitt and crack caddis expert Stuart Crofts, trout and even grayling were caught on the second day (yes, that’s Gideon fishing the Don below a city-centre weir).


At least a couple of our friends have already blogged the event – Paul Gaskell our fearless organiser, and Andy Pritchard of the Lancashire Colne.

So we’ll let them do the talking and say no more for now, except… let’s all do it again soon!

(All images: The Wild Trout Trust)

Wandle cleanup: June 2009: Merton

The one with the Wandle Valley Festival and the…


We should have seen it coming: the idea of advertising our Wandle Valley Festival community cleanup as part of the Springwatch Dirty Weekend was just too much for the Weather Gods, who took revenge by sending us overnight thunderstorms, and yes, a big Dirty Spate down the mainstem of the Wandle.

So while Gideon and Bella were running our Trout in the Classroom display, and starting our public consultation on what local people want for their river, at Deen City Farm


… and the Wands boys demonstrated Riverfly monitoring and fly-casting on the grass in Morden Hall Park


… we’d luckily already scoped out the little Pickle Ditch where it runs around the ancient site of Merton Priory as an alternative cleanup location.


Chris uncovered a cache of ritual river-offerings…


… Steve collected several barrow loads of rather more secular rubbish…


… and we soon turned our attention to clearing invasive Himalayan balsam


… which was generously collected by our friends from Groundwork, and carted away to be incinerated:


 At 1.30, Sally and Jo produced a full summer cream tea…


… which set the tone for a balmy afternoon watering Groundwork’s new plantings opposite Merton High Street, and Dirtily grubbing up more Himalayan balsam around the Sainsbury’s footbridge…


 … before heading off to visit other parts of the Wandle Valley Festival.

As ever, thanks to Gary and his team from Merton Council for clearing away all the rubbish we collected – and check back soon for more news of our Wandle-wide invasive species eradication programme.

In the meantime, if you do notice any invasive species along the river, including Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort or Japanese knotweed, especially if they’ve appeared where you haven’t seen them before, please let us know by downloading one of these forms, filling it in, and sending it back to us!


Thanks to all our volunteers: Andrew, Andy, Ann, Carol, Carolyn, Charlotte, Chris D, Chris E, Diana, Erica, Felix, Jack, Jo, Liz, Luko, Michelle, Mike, Nick, Peter, Phil, Richard, Rigby, Sally, Stephen, Steve, Theo and Zoe