SuDS in Schools engagement
Back to School
It was back to school(s) recently for our SuDS in Schools programme. We delivered outdoor learning activities and challenged pupils to develop their own Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) designs for their school.
Schools are great locations for SuDS, where playing fields, playgrounds and roofs can be used to capture rainwater. This water is stored for future use, or held back until after the rain stops and released slowly into the drainage system without overwhelming it.
We visted 7 schools during this pilot year. But we aim to roll out to a further 33 schools in the Blue Heart area over the life of the funding. And we’re delighted to receive funding from the Department for Education, topped up with support from Southern Water, Blue Heart (Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme funding) and local levy funding from RFCC (Regional Flood and Coastal Committee).
Some of the outdoor learning activities involve teamwork, like a competition to see who can build a drainage system that can transport water the furthest, and a shelter-building, rain-collecting challenge. There’s also a selection of hands-on independent learning experiments for pupils to try. These include:
- Testing different surfaces to discover which drain and store water most effectively leads to questions; why do adults make silly decisions like paving over their gardens?
- Building natural flood risk management structures using twigs to slow the flow of water, demonstrates flood mitigation isn’t all about concrete.
- Play in big trays with model houses to protect and clay to make flood defences, gives
pupils an opportunity to explore how water can be held back or diverted to protect
All with the aim of get dirty, learn, have fun and hopefully be inspired!
Back To The Classroom
Following the excitement of being outside learning, playing and being inquisitive, students return inside to apply what they have learnt in the morning’s experiments. They’ll also design the perfect SuDS feature for their school. The mission is to come up with an idea which will help protect their school and surrounding community from flooding. Their designs are the perfect fit for their schools – who else would know best what is needed, and would be enjoyed by their fellow pupils? So, the vision is to design features which have a dual purpose, such as a rain tank which could be used during playtime or aid in forest schools and gardening clubs.
After all the play and learning, the Blue Heart team will collate the students’ ideas and interpret their drawings to formulate new SuDS designs features. The ideas are pitched back to the teachers and students, and the final designs installed in the summer.
The new SuDS features will also be monitored and evaluated as part of the wider Blue Heart project.