Learning in South Cornwall

Cornish Seal sanctuary

Whilst we’ve been travelling around the country we’ve often been drawn to Sealife centres, particularly since seals are Ella’s favourite animals. As well as seeing them in the wild, we like to support any conservation centres that rehabilitate seals before releasing them back into the wild.

So it wasn’t surprising that once we heard that the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was down the road, we had to pay a visit. The centre is very well organised and laid out, allowing you to wander from area to area learning about the different stages that a rescued seal goes through from time in the hospital through to the convalescence pool before release. The centre is also home to resident seals (common and grey) and seal lions, born in captivity or that have incurable diseases that would mean they were unable to survive in the wild. Keepers provide regular talks throughout the day; the talks were not only informative but extremely well delivered from passionate individuals that obviously love their jobs.

In addition to the information about the seals, a seal academy educates visitors on the dangers that face seals, particularly the issue of plastic in the ocean – an issue that Ella feels very strongly about. The girls’ learning, whilst visiting the sanctuary was to produce a short film that focused on one aspect and to tell it as a story, using filming techniques that they’ve learnt over the last few months.

Task in mind, they both set off with iPhone / iTouch and spent an hour taking short clips that told the story of two seals at the centre. Amy focused on a seal pup called Flash, an unusual case because he had been released but had returned a week earlier after getting into trouble again. Her film told his story but also illustrated the process that a rescued seal pup goes through. Ella, on the other hand, focused on the story of Ironman, a pup that had been released from the sanctuary but had arrived with shocking injuries, inflicted by 9m of plastic fishing line. The message in her film was a strong one with a call to action to help avoid this happening in the future.

Both girls enjoyed their visit to the sanctuary, enjoyed learning about how the centre works and seeing the animals being cared for. They both produced skilled films that clearly tell a story, were presented confidently and used a range of filming techniques.

Cornish Mining

A journey to this part of the UK would not have been complete without learning about Cornish tin and copper mining; an industry that boomed in the late 18th century and one that has been brought back into the mainstream consciousness through the popular recent TV series, Poldark. As you drive around Cornwall, along its narrow and steeply hedge-lined lanes, the remnants of old engine houses and chimneys rise from the ground to remind us of a bygone era that saw wealthy mine owners prosper and men and young boys, employed in dangerous and back-breaking work, many feet below the ground.


Mine Inspectors


Although we didn’t visit the Poldark mine (or even see any of the modern day filming) we did head to the National Trust property East Pool Mine. At the site are two beam engines, originally powered by steam boilers, used to power men and ore up and down. One has been restored and is in working order. The other, one of the largest surviving Cornish beam engines in the world has tours that allow you to explore the different levels. A film explaining the history is shown in the neighbouring Discovery centre and National Trust volunteers are on hand to answer any questions. The girls enjoyed making cornish pasties (out of felt) and dressing up as inspectors of the mine. Ella took the role so seriously she went on to write a full report in role – literacy inspired by a historical visit!