On the next day of my trip back to Eastbourne in February. I travelled to my fathers marshland which in part is owned by West Rise School, who have become both famous and controversial for its ways of teaching children in years 3-6 the ways of outdoor learning with regards to Agriculture and Fieldsports. Children are taught how to skin rabbits and poultry, how to fish, how to shoot; and more specifically how to embrace the outdoors as a source of inspiration and living. Enough to give any health and safety inspector a major migraine.
My father started working at the school when I first attended back in 2002-2003, the school back then was vastly different to how it operates nowadays, with its bull headed approach to outdoors learning and a disregard to the modern stereotypical health and safety which on its own is comedic given what the school has managed to do. When I was just around the corner of leaving back in 2009; just about to finish my SATS and head off to secondary school; Mike Fairclough, the Headmaster of the school (even since I started) cooperated with my father and other staff members at the school to build a small farm on the schools playing field, around early 2008 work was started on a shed for Pygmy goats, and later on a hut was build for chickens. Ever since then really the ball has been rolling for the school, and later on the school acquired some marshland next to it in which they placed waterbuffalo on.
Considering the local history which goes far back to the Bronze age, The marshland was in actual fact one of the largest settlements in the UK, and both Mike and my Father wanted to use this as an ambitious, yet successful tool for teaching kids the history that surrounds them and the ways in which people lived back in the days of mud huts and pointy sticks.
Moving on towards 2014, when I had just left school after completing my GCSE Exams, The school resurrected a Bronze age roundhouse on a small lake that resides on the marshland, built by my father over the course of around a year or two. The little spot became a favourite of mine in Eastbourne, it was somewhere where pupils of the school could go to learn in the outdoors environment, it was also somewhere me and my friends would go to chat absolute bollocks over a drink; however after the course of a year the place was arsoned and subsequently eroded. Some of the wooden pillars are blanketed by burn marks, graffiti is found all around the hut. Its a miracle how it still stands on the lake.
Over the years however, since 2009; the school has obtained TES's "School of the Year" award for its contribution to the local community and the practical teaching the marsh has delivered for the school. The school was also featured on BBC's Countryfile (Which I had the opportunity to go down and photograph alongside John Craven). West Rise was also featured on a number of documentaries and news stories, most notably by Channel 4 and a sky documentary produced by Elizabeth Murdoch. Im sure at some point; I'll write a bigger post about the school in its entirety, or maybe make a documentary about it, we'll see.
photos taken on both Canon 650d and Canon 6d