The Journey

Water sports at Mary Rose

2012: Water sports was first introduced to Mary Rose Academy in April 2012 when we purchased 3 small single sit on top kayaks and 1 katakanu , “a katakanu is a purpose built 6 seater twin hulled canoe originally designed for families but because of the versatility and safe design it was soon adopted by special needs groups across the uk.” We ran one afternoon session a week at Emsworth Millpond for a KS4 class, this proved very popular and by the Summer Term it was increased to two afternoons a week for KS4 and 6th Form.

2013: At the start of the summer term 2013 we re-located to Lakeside , North Harbour. This provided a beautiful, very safe and accessible setting. A second Kataknau was purchased to allow for increasing demand of groups wanting to participate. Water-sports was becoming very popular with the pupils at Mary Rose and in September 2013 we took 26 pupils to Wokingham Water-sports Centre and entered our first water-sports regatta.

2014: Mary Rose Academy became a Water-Sports Hub and as part of this we were able to purchase another two katakanus , to celebrate this we held our own Launch Regatta at Lakeside to which we invited pupils from Cliffdale Primary Academy. We also took part in British Canoeing National Go Canoeing Week. At this point we were running sessions at lakeside every day From Easter through to October and by the start of the summer term Cliffdale Academy had started to join us for regular sessions on the water.


2015: word had travelled about  the work we were doing at Lakeside. We were not just delivering Water-Sports sessions through PE but also developing cross curriculum links. We had groups on the water taking part in Maths/English and Science lessons as well as theme days and topics. Other schools started to contact us asking to become involved . May 2015 we ran a Level 3 SEN school regatta, this was the first ever SEN water-sports event to be run in this country. By the end of the  year we had been running 19 sessions a week for 6 SEN schools and had approximately 171 pupils involved in the project.  We also saw water-sports offered as part of our after schools clubs , this was successful with 11 pupils from Mary Rose coming down on a Thursday after school.

2015: National Award: Hannah Richardson and Steve Fifield were both nominated by British Canoeing for recognition awards on their Impact on Disability in water-sports , they won the regional award and then they went on to win the National Award.

2016: we started our biggest program to date. Another katakanu was purchased and we started running 28 water sports sessions a week involving 7 SEN schools and 2 day centres. We now have approximately 210 pupils a week accessing Water-Sports through PE and other curriculum subjects . We’ve  already run 2 SEN regattas , one for primary schools and the other  for secondary and a very successfully Water sports holiday club involving 84 pupils from a variety of SEN schools.

Looking forward: The year does not look to be slowing down either as we are  just about to take delivery of 18 single kayaks loaned from British Canoeing, these are to be used with some of our pupils to promote independence on the water. This year will also see our after school club expanded to include pupils from Cliffdale and Redwood Park Academies. Other upcoming events are the introduction of a Gifted and Talented day, which hopefully will lead to putting together a team to enter into next year’s Special Olympics kayaking event. To celebrate an amazing year we are planning a kayak/canoe camping expedition.

How great is that!