YEM engagement with Schools in the Yealm catchment.

7 Great Primary Schools!

We are lucky to have seven great primary schools keen to be involved in nature-based activities and are collectively known, by YEM, as the “Catchment Schools”:

  • St Marys Church of England Primary School Brixton,
  • Newton Ferrers Church of England Primary School,
  • All Saints Primary School Sparkwell,
  • Wembury Primary School,
  • Yealmpton Primary School,
  • Cornwood Church of England Primary School 
  • Sherford Vale Primary School.

Forest School Curriculum

Each of the 7 primary schools has a “Forest School Curriculum” and YEM works in partnership with Parklife and Devon Wildlife Trust to deliver expert support and ideas for these Forest School programmes. For instance, advice about how to grow trees, how to make bug hotels or how to establish a wildflower meadow in the school grounds. Some of the school children have also been involved in the tree planting schemes run by YEM, Parklife and the National Trust; notably at Wembury New Barton Farm and at the Kitley tree planting.

Tree Nurseries

Growing our own trees locally is a great way to help meet the need to plant more trees and perfect for getting children and the community involved.

  • Tree Seed Sunday” was organised for the first time in October 2023. Communities and schools, from the six parishes along the river Yealm catchment, went out to forage for tree seeds in their local area. The seeds were collected to be sown and nurtured in schools or at home.
  • A “Mini-tree seed nursery” has been made available to each catchment school from YEM, in co-operation with Devon Wildlife Trust. This is enabling each primary school to plant and nurture their own trees grown from seed such as acorns, conkers, and hazel nuts. Some of the schools already have seedlings from last year’s plantings.
  • Community tree-nurseries have been created, with the help of local funding,  in six communities in the catchment and are capable of growing on the  seedlings until they are big enough to be planted out. Over time, this will  enable YEM to have its own stock of trees to be distributed and planted out in  the catchment corridor.

Annual Art Competition

The primary schools are also involved in the YEM Annual Art Competition, with much of the children’s work on display in the YEM stand at the Yealmpton Show. At the first of these competitions in 2023, the children were also delighted to find a mermaid at the stand.  

YEM invited Lindsey Cole, a “free diver” who has swum in a mermaid suit along many rivers and at coastal locations around the UK. Based on her experiences, Lindsey wrote the true story and bestselling children’s book called “The Mermaid and the Cow.” YEM has provided a copy of this book to all the catchment schools.

Lindsey heads up the charity “We Swim Wild”, aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of plastic waste in rivers and the sea and who fund essential micro-plastic research across Britain (

Youth Strategy

YEM aims to establish a Youth Strategy, working Youth Focus Southwest and  Ivybridge Community College (ICC), a school that is very aware of current  environmental issues. Although, ICC is not in the Yealm catchment, it has a good  many students that live in the river Yealm catchment. ICC has a well-founded  “Sustainability Group” of student volunteers. They have been involved in many  environmental projects such as, planting 600 trees in the school grounds and clean-  up of Mothecombe Beach.  ICC has recently started a new AQA A-Level course in Environmental Science and  YEM is looking to support student projects and to provide survey and research  opportunities for the school.

As part of the Youth Strategy, the plan is also to identify Young Adult Ambassadors  for YEM and environmental issues generally.  If you are interested or can help with any of the above, please contact us  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.