Pupils’ year of research

FLOODED-OUT Morpeth pupils are taking no chances of a repeat disaster after completing a year-long climate change project.

Many of the youngsters at Morpeth First School were among the victims of the town’s devastating 2008 flood and some had to leave their homes for months while the damage was repaired.

So when the Climate Change Schools Project was looking for participants for a groundbreaking piece of work to plan against flooding, the Goosehill school was the ideal candidate.

The ShocFlood (School Hubs for Community Flood Risk Reduction) scheme was designed to run throughout the academic year to help local communities to become better prepared for flooding and take steps to reduce their risk.

The Morpeth school held an activities fortnight to learn more about the issue, worked with residents to raise awareness in the community, and the school parliament debated flooding with councillors at County Hall as part of a community cohesion day.

Pupils also formed a junior forum of the Morpeth Flood Action Group in partnership with King Edward VI School, produced personal flood plans and booklets and the school’s Eco Club created a ShocFlood webpage.

In addition, the children learnt about flooding in other parts of the world and translated their own experiences to places like Pakistan and Mississippi, as well as tsunami disaster areas.

Headteacher Elaine Reay said: “Morpeth First School suffered from flooding in September 2008 with many pupils and their families experiencing damage and disruption. The school is keen to share its experiences to help the local community and also to provide advice to other schools around the North East that are at risk of flooding. Our work through ShocFlood has enabled us to do this.”

The school’s work was showcased at the Climate Change Schools Project annual celebration earlier this month.

A total of four North East schools took part in the scheme, which aims to put climate change at the heart of the curriculum and make schools beacons of positive action in their communities.

Project Manager Dr Krista McKinzey said: “Our ShocFlood showcase was very timely given the extreme weather across the region, helping to spread knowledge about being prepared for flooding and what you can do to protect yourself, loved ones and property.

“It has been great to see young people sharing their learning with the wider community and taking positive steps to reduce the risk of flooding in their local area. They have done a magnificent job and should be very proud. Well done to everyone involved in ShocFlood.”

The initiative was run by the Climate Change Schools Project in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (NRFCC).

Chairman of the North East Local Levy and NRFCC Frank Major said: “The highly unusual weather conditions experienced lately and the devastating flooding we have seen in the North East highlights the need for communities to understand the local impacts of flooding and how they can work with others to be ready to respond.

“ShocFlood has been successful because it builds on this community spirit and the core hubs that schools form in our towns and cities. The young people have come up with some great ideas and have really helped to raise awareness.”

For more information about the work visit www.climatechangeschools.org.uk