Southsea school children present sea defence solutions

Image: the winning teams with the judging panel at the back of the picture: from L-R, Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education at Portsmouth City Council; Andrew Olive, head teacher at St. Swithun's Catholic Primary School; Rupert Teasdale, Coastal Engineer from the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership. Children from St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School in Southsea have completed a three month programme which culminated in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style presentation. The process saw 90 pupils design and present coastal defence solutions as part of a project coordinated by Southsea Coastal Scheme. The project, which kicked off in September, saw the year 5 and 6 children create their own schemes and present to a panel of professionals including Headteacher, Andrew Olive; Cllr Suzy Horton, cabinet member for education; and Coastal Project Engineer from the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership, Rupert Teasdale. Three winning teams were announced as Big Blue Sea, Sea Defenders and St Swithun’s Sea Stoppers. The project aimed to engage local children in plans to protect Southsea from coastal flooding over the next 100 years. Throughout the three month programme, children enjoyed a fun-filled assembly from two Mad Scientists to learn more about coastal defence schemes and flooding, as well as a field trip to the seafront to understand the current challenges. Josh, aged 11, said: "It was an amazing project to do as we all had a fun time. We enjoyed learning about the different sea defences and why these are important if we want to save our city. I found doing the presentation really nerve wracking - as there were so many people - but it was also really exciting" Matthew Dunn, Head of Year 5 and 6 at St Swithun’s Catholic Primary School, said: “The children completed research about different coastal sea defences and came up with their recommendations to present. They had to consider elements such as visual impact, accessibility and geography before pitching their suggestions. The process has given the pupils a real insight into an important project right on their doorstep.” Amelie, aged 10 said: “I really enjoyed the whole project. I liked researching and preparing for the presentation as not only did we get to make models and posters but we also learnt a lot about the scheme. I learnt that it is important to save the city for future generations - for my generation - as Portsmouth is such an amazing place to live - especially so we can continue to walk along the beach eating ice cream or fish and chips!" The adults, on both the judging panel and spectating, were full of praise for the presentations they saw. Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for Environment and Community Safety at Portsmouth City Council who was watching the event, said: "I was incredibly impressed with the children's knowledge and the ideas they had come up with. They've really embraced this project, and it's been great to see the Southsea Coastal Scheme team out in the community sharing their knowledge and helping people to understand the engineering challenges that this major infrastructure project has to overcome." Cllr Ashmore's cabinet colleague, Cllr Suzy Horton added "It was really tough to choose the winning teams, everyone had put so much effort in so congratulations to all who took part. There are definitely some budding coastal engineers in the group that I'm sure we'll see working on defence projects across the city in years to come!" Take a look at some more pictures on Facebook.