The National Marine Aquarium (NMA) has partnered with two local Plymouth schools for students with complex needs to offer tailored visits.
Students from Mount Tamar Special School and Longcause Community Special School will visit the NMA and take part in sessions specially developed by the NMA's Discovery and Learning team. The students will discover the many marine animals that reside at the aquarium and explore the marine environment through art and science sessions.
Natalie Fallaize, from Longcause Community Special School, said: “Our children have really engaged with the sessions at the aquarium. They loved the sensory and art activities and researching about different marine animals. Staff were flexible with the needs of our pupils. Our children benefited from going to a new environment where they could apply learning that they have done at school and gained a much deeper understanding of marine life.”
In addition to scheduled visits, the NMA has been providing a respite drop-in service for students, allowing them to visit the aquarium at any time during the day, to take a break from their school surroundings.
Brett Storry, from Mount Tamar Special School, said: “Probably the biggest impact has been the effect of the calming environment on the students particularly when they feel anxious. We often take individuals or groups to the aquarium and just being around the fish tanks has allowed them to calm and focus on their learning.”
Research conducted by the NMA, in partnership with Plymouth University and the University of Exeter, found that people who spend time watching aquariums and fish tanks could see improvements in their physical and mental well-being. Providing a calming and relaxed atmosphere, the peaceful surroundings of the NMA's exhibits and marine life are the ideal getaway for students to unwind and focus on their learning.
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