The Wave Project announces plans to build world’s first

Beach School for vulnerable young people

  • New building on Gwithian Towans beach will be the first purpose-built Beach School for vulnerable children in the world 
  • Beach School is an evidence-based intervention that combines outdoor learning and surfing to help children at risk of exclusion re-engage with learning
  • Local public are invited to consultation event on 15th May

Newquay, 30th April: The UK’s leading surf therapy charity, The Wave Project, has announced plans to build the world’s first purpose-built Beach School to support vulnerable local children who struggle to engage with traditional school lessons and are at risk of permanent exclusion.

The new facility is planned for a site in close proximity to Gwithian Towans beach, in Hayle, Cornwall. Truro-based architects Lavigne Lonsdale have been briefed to lead the design of the facility, with a public consultation on the project to take place on May 15th  from 10am to 5pm outside Sunset Surf at Gwithian Towans, Cornwall. This event is being held outdoors in a Covid-safe setting.

Members of the public from the surrounding area are invited to attend and will have the opportunity to hear The Wave Project and Lavigne Lonsdale present the scheme proposal for the building, and answer questions about the project.

The Wave Project Beach School is an evidence-based intervention that combines outdoor learning and surfing with innovative schemes of work that help children to re-engage with the idea of learning.

The concept is currently in operation at The Wave Project’s local projects across the country – but this would be the first time that a physical facility has been erected for this purpose, and would be the first facility of its type anywhere in the world.

Children currently referred to The Wave Project beach school classes attend for one full day per week during normal school time, providing them with a break from school, and helping them to reset their thinking about learning. Spending most of the day in their wetsuits and learn outside, on the beach and in the sea, children attend lessons devised to incorporate the natural environment in the pupils’ learning.

The new Beach School facility at Gwithian would enable the course to be delivered to up to 75 children each week (15 per day). The design has been developed thoughtfully to give children the sense of being outdoors all the time, whilst keeping them safe.

Joe Taylor, Founder & CEO, The Wave Project said:

“Beach School is a project that combines outdoor learning with the curriculum to support children who may not be achieving their full potential in education. This new facility has been designed with the needs of children in mind, offering them the chance to learn outside wherever possible, in an environment they find calming and supportive.

“We’re excited to be pioneering this groundbreaking model for education and look forward to partnering with local schools on this project. We hope it will provide a blueprint for other beach schools nationally – and worldwide – helping to reduce the number of children who fall out of the traditional education system all together.

The Wave Project is the UK’s first surf therapy charity. Initially funded by the NHS as a pilot project in 2010, The Wave Project aims to improve the wellbeing and confidence of young people who face mental health issues or social exclusion – offering a dedicated six-week course of one-to-one surfing support followed by the opportunity to join a social club to progress surfing and train to become volunteer helpers and mentors.

The proposed Beach School responds to a mental health crisis amongst young people in the UK that is reaching critical levels, with the problem getting worse each year and exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the NHS, one in six children had a diagnosed mental health issue in July 2020, compared with one in nine in 2017. 

Children with poorer mental health are far more likely to struggle at school, and some may end up being permanently excluded. In Cornwall, there are more children with social, emotional and mental health needs than across England as a whole: there were 90 permanent exclusions from schools in Cornwall in 2019/20, and 92 in 2018/19. The long-term cost of each of these children to public services is estimated at £370,000 each – a total cost of £33m per year in Cornwall alone. 

To attend the public consultation, local members of the public and local press are invited to meet outside Sunset Surf at Gwithian Towans, Cornwall, from 10am to 5pm on the 15th May.