From Brittany to North Wales
It was a chance conversation in Brittany over 10 years ago, that brought Ysgol y Môr to the Menai Strait. For our director, Stuart Gibson, it proved to be that inspirational ‘lightbulb’ moment. On hearing about the Bretons’ successful marine education programme, Classe de Mer, and its impact on the region’s education and economy, the similarities and potential for what could be achieved in North Wales were striking.
A Vision for North Wales
The integration of marine environmental studies and watersports skills into the school curriculum in Brittany over a 30 year period, had a considerable impact upon the long term economy, lifestyle choices and career opportunities within the region. Brittany is now considered to be Europe’s centre of excellence for marine activity and industry. With our own high quality coastal environment, maritime, language and cultural similarities, North Wales had the same potential.
In 2006, Stuart and North Wales Watersports Ltd set themselves the ambitious task of bringing a similar programme to North Wales. A visit to the marine facilities and authorities in Finistère, Brittany, gave key educational advisors, headteachers, councillors and Welsh Assembly officials a good understanding of how the ‘Ecole de Mer’ model worked in practice. Reintroducing local communities to the economic benefits, particularly within the marine leisure and science industries, had been achieved by embedding a comprehensive marine education programme into the school curriculum for children across Brittany. The Menai Strait in North Wales has an incredible coastal environment and world class activity and marine science providers. North Wales Watersports set about establishing a network of watersport activity providers and educators along the Strait, to implement a pilot programme in North West Wales to maximise the opportunities on our amazing coastline. And so, Ysgol y Môr or, School of the Sea, was born.
Ysgol y Môr for Schools
From 2009, North Wales Watersports Ltd developed and ran the Ysgol y Môr pilot programme with the support of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Welsh Assembly and local authorities in North West Wales. A powerful combination of coastal environment activity days, watersports skills and marine renewables challenge was integrated into a number of primary and secondary schools in Anglesey, Gwynedd and Conwy over a three year period. In partnership with centres including Plas Menai, the Conway Centre, Anglesey Sea Zoo, Engineering your Future and the School of Ocean Sciences, North Wales Watersports developed a strong foundation for the Ysgol y Môr model of marine education.
Ysgol y Môr Limited
19 Ashdown House
Riverside Business Park
+44 (0)1492 550768