Nautilus members working for UK ferry operator Wightlink will have the chance to promote maritime careers to Isle of Wight children under a new partnership arrangement with the primary schools closest to the island's three Wightlink terminals.
Wightlink will work on a series of educational and aspirational projects with teachers and pupils at Wootton and Binstead primary schools and Dover Park in Ryde. Talks have also begun to establish a similar relationship with two other schools.
In particular, Wightlink and the schools will develop initiatives focusing on the environment and encouraging careers in the maritime sector. The company will also offer discounted travel to assist the schools in pursuing educational activities on the mainland.
Already planned are visits from school parties to see the workings of Wightlink's Fishbourne terminal as well as a trip onboard its hybrid energy flagship Victoria of Wight for a talk about the environment and a chance to meet the captain on a bridge visit. Wightlink has also agreed to look at establishing a Schools Forum where youngsters can air their views on travel issues and to involve schools in Wightlink's ongoing 'green agenda'.
Wightlink chief executive Keith Greenfield commented: 'We have worked with local schools over many years on events such as the Royal naming of Victoria of Wight, visits to our artificial rockpools at Fishbourne – the Vertipools – and onboard performances.
'However, we wanted to develop those links further and in recent months we have been speaking to schools to explore how we might do that in a meaningful way.
'A number of suggestions have been made and we are now looking to build these into a rewarding and truly beneficial partnership. We have been really pleased with the enthusiasm with which staff and pupils have embraced this idea and we are looking forward to working with them in the future.
'This will not prevent us working with other schools on ad hoc projects, but we were really keen to forge special and ongoing relations with those schools nearest to our terminals.'
Dover Park Primary head teacher Anita Wilcox added: 'As a school we are always keen to raise aspiration and broaden the horizons of our pupils. This partnership with a travel company that links the island to the mainland will give us more opportunities to do that.'
Jane Wilford, head teacher at Wootton Primary, said: 'Along with Binstead, we have been working with Wightlink for a while now on events like carol singing onboard at Christmas and Victoria of Wight's naming ceremony. The children have really enjoyed these activities and we are all very excited about exploring other educational and extra-curricular opportunities through this new partnership.'
Binstead head teacher Rebecca Chessell said: 'We are very pleased that such an important local company has reached out to us in this way. We are looking forward to exploring a range of activities, particularly those dealing with environmental issues and those that give an early introduction to future career possibilities.'