Fly me a River

Affinity WaterLatest News

Children standing along a river bed.

The Education Team have been working hard over the past year developing the new and exciting project, the ‘Riverfly for Schools’ programme. This summer term saw the first cohort of students in the programme getting hands-on in their local river.

The programme is based around the national Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative which looks for 8 species within a river to gauge the health of it (generally speaking- the higher the score the cleaner the river). The species found within a river, often creatures such as fly larvae, can indicate the health of a river – as different species have different tolerances to pollution. If a site fails by way of a low score then the Environment Agency is informed as it could indicate a pollution incident in that waterway.

This new pilot is being run by Affinity Water and delivered by leading waterways charity, Thames21. The programme aims to support young people to gain valuable and practical scientific experience working in the environment whilst engaging with their local waterways.

Excitingly, June saw the first school of this project, Haydon school in Eastcote, out in the River Pinn undertaking fieldwork and sampling to assess the health of their local river.

In preparation for their fieldwork day, the Year 9 Geography students had an introductory session at school to learn about this Citizen Science scheme and the importance of rivers for water supplies, transportation and leisure.

The fieldwork day started with the students donning wellies and sampling the river for invertebrates to monitor what lives there. The students found a wide variety of life within the river whilst honing their identification skills to work out which species they had caught.

In the afternoon, the students took physical measurements of the river such as width, depth and velocity, all key skills for their Geography GCSE as well as valuable abiotic (non-living) variables to be monitoring.

Children looking at River-fly's.

Ryan Harding, a Geography teacher at Haydon school, says: “The Riverfly for School’s programme has been a great experience. Our pupils have had an opportunity to undertake fieldwork, which is a great introduction to the GCSE Geography curriculum. I do believe our pupils have further gained an understanding and greater appreciation of local biodiversity.”

If your school is interested in getting involved, please contact the Education Team: