Saturday, 20 October 2012

Foredown Tower Environment and Conservation Courses

This month I started running Environment and Conservation Courses for Portslade Adult Education. (East Sussex). These FE courses are based at their Foredown Tower site, a once disused water tower for an isolation hospital.

The tower was turned into a countryside centre, as it is on the edge of the South Downs and also houses a camera obscura. The first course focused on habitats and food chains.
We used the main classroom for the main parts of the lesson but also had access to the surrounding area for some practical activities.

We looked at a variety of food food chains and in this activity, the learners created a food chain selecting from a variety of animals and explained what was happening in their food chain.

 Investigating invertebrates outside the tower.
A black lipped snail climbing over a garden snail.

We also visited the dew ponds, a short distance from Foredown Tower.
These artificial ponds where built to contain drinking water for live stock on the downs where no standing water exists.
The bottom of the ponds are lined with straw and clay. While they have not been built for wildlife, local wildlife is attracted to the pond as water is such a valuable resource.

In the middle of the course we went on a field trip to Lewes Railwayland Nature Reserve. This piece of land was once part of the railway sidings and surrounding area, hence its name. It is a great site for students to experience a range of habitats and use this first hand study back in the classroom. I have worked on several projects and event at this fascinating site. To find out more you can visit their website

The Linklater Centre uses various sustainable methods in the running of the centre, e.g. green roof, ground source heating etc. The design of the centre also blends in with the surroundings. Inside is a live honey bee colony and we saw them entering from the outside.
Some settled on us as we watched.
Many birds visited the hanging bird feeders situated around the centre.

The main reason for the field trip was for the learners to explore the site and make field notes of the main habitats (woodland, grassland and freshwater habitats). Here are a selection of pictures.



water meadows

Freshwater habitats

                                                                   Leighside pond
                                                                     Another pond
                                                                Chilly Brooks

                                                                        Marsh frog
                                                     Southern hawker dragonfly

                                            Winterbourne Stream

This level one course will be repeated in January 2013. There will also be a level 2 course starting end of February 2013 for students who wish to progress. The level 2 course will focus on plant biology and marine habitats and coastal protection.

You can find out more about these courses on and click on brochure.