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Integrating Maritime into Mainstream Education

Date: 16 Jul

Cowes Enterprise College has created an exciting model for integrating maritime into a mainstream curriculum. After a successful 3-year pilot, the school is looking to freely disseminate this model from September 2021, with support from Cornwall Marine Network and its Cornwall Marine Academy.


  1. Why teaching maritime at school makes sense in Cornwall – Aurelie Nollet

In Cornwall, no town or village is more than 18 miles from the sea. Maritime is a key sector in terms of local employment. It represents 15,000 jobs across 855 businesses, nearly exclusively SMEs. The maritime sector provides attractive career opportunities here in Cornwall, with an average salary above the Cornish cross-sector average.

Maritime is also a thriving sector, which will play a key role in the energy transition and the response to climate and ocean emergencies. It is ideally placed to get its fair share of the 2 million green jobs the Government anticipates will be created by 2030 to build back greener and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Some of the green developments happening in the Cornish marine sector can be viewed here: link.

Beyond employment opportunities, the maritime sector supports the livelihood of coastal communities and there is mounting evidence that blue spaces provide huge benefits in terms of physical and mental health and well-being.

In Cornwall, CMN supports its 400 marine business members to thrive and generate a positive impact on communities. CMN has a successful track record of delivering large scale skills projects and last month, the team announced it had created and filled 4,000 new jobs and apprenticeships over the past 16 years.

CMN’s subsidiary company the Cornwall Marine Academy was set up in 2008 in response to local employers reporting difficulties to recruit young people with the right skills or attitude. The CMA made employers part of the solution and we now have a network of 105 marine employers volunteering as ambassadors to deliver career talks, site visits, work placements, vocational training, job trials, etc.

The CMA is all about raising the profile of the marine sector among young people, delivering vocational training in line with what employers need, and getting more young people to seize the benefits of being by the seaside, hence our interest in the project delivered on the Isle of Wight.


  1. The experience of Cowes Enterprise College – Rachel Kitley

Rachel relocated from London to the Isle of Wight and was struck by the differences in children who appeared less confident, had less understanding of their place and history and what they mean to them, had less aspirations than students in London, and didn’t really know where they were going.

In terms of the local context, the Isle of Wight experienced some challenging social difficulties. At some point every school was in special measure, giving young people some wrong perceptions of where they come from, combined with quite high unemployment, and yet a huge excess of available highly paid jobs in maritime.

It felt like a good opportunity to draw all these aspects together into new thinking. At the same time, the school needed a new curriculum. They decided to develop a new one at Key State 3 to give young people a strong sense of place and excitement about the future, whilst exposing them to attractive employment opportunities in marine.

They developed the idea of integrating maritime through their mainstream subject, in a way that is easily replicable. They created a maritime advisory panel with national and local leads to inform on how to integrate maritime in the curriculum and advise on maritime content.

E.g., in physics they learn about forces in the water. In DT, they make a boat, applying the knowledge acquired in the other lessons. Local employers come in to work on the practical project, talk about composite materials, what it is like to be a boat builder, etc. In geography, a field trip on a boat is organised in Year 7 to look at coastal erosion and defences. Kids and teachers have loved it.

Cf. link to COWES website:

On the back of this work, through the national Ormiston Academies Trust, they aim to replicate the model elsewhere and have developed a website and app for children and schools to use, showcasing a broad range of maritime careers.

At Key Stage 4, COWES are working with Pearson to create a brand new BTEC vocational qualification (Tech Award). The aim is that it will count towards schools’ league table, and that first teaching will be over the 2023/2024 academic year. This would be available nationally. Beyond that, there are already good Key Stage 5 courses that exist so this new qualification would bridge a gap.

To work at scale, Pearson’s guiding principles are that it needs to be affordable and accessible, even for schools that are not near the water.

  1. Making it happen in Cornwall: discussions – Rachel Kitley, David Wilson and Aurelie Nollet

It is proposed that the Cornish schools have access to the following resources and mentoring programme:

  • A dedicated online platform:
  • all curriculum materials made available for Cornish schools to review and adapt
  • Online chat and Q&As in between sessions


  • Mentoring sessions throughout the year:
  • X2 4h Leadership session:
    • Autumn: preparing your school (staff and students) for an integrated maritime curriculum
    • Spring: dealing with difficulties, lessons, selling the concept to the community
  • X3 5h Curriculum planning:
    • Autumn: identifying local maritime connections and fleshing out links (with CMN support)
    • Spring 1: developing the curriculum “snake” and the mapping of maritime across subjects
    • Spring 2: lesson planning
  • X2 visits:
  • Autumn: visit to Cowes Enterprise College
  • Spring: Cowes’ visit to Cornish Schools


Practical considerations:

  • CMN covering costs for the mentoring programme
    • Cornish schools to complete basic eligibility paperwork with CMN to allow to draw down the Business Clusters ESF funding.
  • Cornish schools to consider:
  • Time commitment
  • Costs associated with trip to Isle of Wight
  • Costs associated with practical project: Possible partnership with CMN to secure engagement from marine employers and access to funding jointly to enable the delivery of the practical project


  1. Discussions and actions

Opportunity to build up slowly. Next year is about planning, one year at a time, starting with Year 7. First-year is about networking, getting to know the local marine community, getting the buying from the team in the school.

Clarification: getting involved in the project means committing to thinking about what may happen if the schools were to include maritime in the school curriculum. By committing to the mentoring programme, schools do not have to commit that it will lead to a maritime curriculum being implemented the following year or even at all. Rather, the project is about taking time out to explore. This is a development work and planning process.