23rd June 2000 at 01:00
A day in the life of Somerset geography teachers

This was an in-service day that needed wellington boots. Eighteen primary and secondary teachers tramped across the Somerset Levels and Moors to learn at first hand about balancing the demands of conservationists, farmers and residents. The Levels and Moors is the largest (60,000 hectares) area of low lying wet grassland in England. It is internationally important for overwintering and migratory birds and smaller creatures living in the drainage channels. But because it's below sea level it is prone to flooding, damaging homes and farms. The day, organised by the Environment Agency, the lcal authority and Somerset Education Business Partnership, is aimed at geography teachers but is applicable to citizenship as well because it involves balancing conflicting interests. During the day, the teachers visited flood defence works, spoke to a conservationist, a withy grower, farmers and residents and went for an hour's walk across fields to see a pumping station. Annabelle Lillycrop of the Environment Agency says: "The idea is that the teachers learn at first hand from the people living there." This was the second year the trip has taken place and because both were oversubscribed, there are plans to repeat it next year.

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