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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 June, 2005, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Pupils get sea-plus from syllabus
Pupils hold their model of HMS Victory
The Trafalgar project has proved particularly popular with boys
Youngsters with a thirst for knowledge about their local hero, Lord Nelson, have managed to fit him into every subject in their curriculum.

Staff at Isambard Brunel Junior School, in Portsmouth, have created an entire term's national curriculum syllabus based on the Trafalgar hero.

Other schools in the area are now using it, and more from around the country are expected to follow suit.

Head Llyn Codling says Nelson features in everything from maths to dance.

And she says their contribution to the city-wide "Sea and Learn" education project has proved a big hit with the 10- and 11-year-olds.

Local links

"We always teach by projects and the children absolutely love it," she said. "Parents say how much it inspires the children."

Ironically, Mrs Codling, head of year Emma Sykes and former information technology teacher Chris Hadley did not devise the syllabus to coincide with this year's 200th anniversary of Nelson's death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Art - Shipbuilding and Nelson's Column
Music - Sea shanties
Maths - Cost of a day at the dockyard
Food technology - making ship's biscuits
History - Diary of a sailor
PE - Sea dances
Geography - Evolution of the dockyard

"We created it because we wanted the children to try to understand the importance and impact of and on Portsmouth.

"I feel very strongly that with primary-age children, it is important that they learn about history and geography, but in relation to them.

Better behaviour

"Children learn better if they can relate it to something that is relevant to them. So they don't just learn about Nelson but about the impact he has had on Portsmouth, such as the Trafalgar celebrations and the international festival of the sea."

As well as being a hit with the children, the All At Sea project - which includes learning about area and capacity through rum barrels and combining maths and art to recreate Nelson's Column - is improving performance and behaviour, according to the head.

Poem about the sea by Isambard Brunel School pupil
The syllabus covers everything from art to maths and science to IT

All At Sea was first used fully last year and refined this year. "Our results are going up slowly," said Mrs Codling.

"We are focusing not just on literacy and numeracy but all aspects of the national curriculum because we want to raise standards in all areas.

"The indications are that things are rising steadily and slowly - but broadly. There are still some pupils who are challenging, but it makes a big difference with behaviour. And boys - who tend to be under-achieving - love it."

Children at the school also learn about two of Portsmouth's favourite sons - Charles Dickens and the engineer whose name it now shares, Isambard Kingdom Brunel - as well as the impact on the city of World War II.

  • The pupils have helped the BBC News website set a Trafalgar quiz, to be published next week, putting their acquired knowledge to good use with some fiendish and fascinating questions.

    Were they one of Nelson's men?
    21 Jun 05 |  Magazine
    Royal Family join Trafalgar event
    20 May 05 |  Hampshire
    Special choir to perform at T200
    17 Jun 05 |  Hampshire
    Nelson moves to enjoy a sea view
    26 May 05 |  Hampshire


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