YOUNGSTERS swapped their primary school for a “floating classroom” on the Thames in a trial which could be copied across the county.

Year Six pupils from New Marston Primary School studied animals, plants and the river environment during a 90-minute educational teturn trip from Port Meadow.

The trip was organised by county councillor for Marston and Northway county councillor Mark Lygo and the environmental charity Groundwork.

The charity now wants to raise about £250,000 to run regular trips in the city on a specialist barge.

Mr Lygo, who is also an area board member for Groundwork, said: “My vision for the future is to get every primary school a floating classroom experience.

“It was a great experience for them. It’s a different way of being educated and being out of the school environment.

“It’s a way to give children the chance to see Oxford in a different light while learning in a way they would not do at school.”


Pupils get down to work on the barge

Groundwork has run classes on the River Thames in the London borough of Hillingdon since 2001.

It will now ask firms to sponsor a Thames sailing barge or wide-beam barge for regular trips in Oxford.

Emily Lygo, Mr Lygo’s daughter, was part of the group of 29 New Marston Primary School pupils who went on the trip. She said: “I liked being on the boat and looking at the animals and lots of different trees.

“It was very exciting seeing the ducks, birds and insects. There should be more classes like it.”

Groundwork’s senior education manager, Mike Moritz, said he hoped the money would be raised in five years.

He said: “It’s early days but we want to refit a boat in Oxford that picks up kids and teaches them about being on the water, the canals in Oxford and their industrial history.

“We want to see other schools enjoying it like they are in London, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about waterways and the outside environment.”