Southlands Angling Club is a project within Southlands School, near Lymington, Hampshire. Southlands School is a residential special school for around 50 boys aged 9- 16 years old with a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and associated conditions.
Most of the pupils are of average or above average ability; however significant difficulties in a range of key areas of development affect their everyday life. These difficulties may embrace social understanding and communication, flexibility of thinking, motor skills, coordination and sequencing skills, attention and concentration, and anxiety when faced with new situations or change. Challenging or manipulative behaviour is a common response to anxiety making it difficult to access mainstream community facilities without support. These skills have to be taught gradually over time. Many pupils have very low self confidence and self- esteem and find the classroom learning environment extremely challenging.
Within the grounds of the school there was a small disused lake. Some pupils expressed interest in fishing this lake. It became clear that fishing, even using a stick with line, was a positive experience and more importantly our lake had fish. The interest in fishing snowballed, with the school council suggesting restoration of the lake so that pupils can use it as part of “Southlands Fishing Club” during evenings and at weekends.
Two taster days were arranged with “Fun 2 Fish” where 12 pupils were given the opportunity to try fishing with professional coaching. These days were a fantastic learning experience. Pupils who normally have difficulty managing their anxiety, controlling their behaviour and remaining on task in the classroom, spent 5 hours at the lake; fully engaged, relaxed and thoroughly enjoying themselves.
It took a while, but with the help of the Environment Agency, students studying Fishery and Agriculture diplomas at Sparsholt College, a grant from Southern Water for storage and fishing equipment from Dreamstore, the School now has an outstanding pond for use by the Fishing Club in the school and, using the same platforms, pond dipping for cross curricular links with Science, Maths, and ICT.
The creation of the Southlands Fishing Club is a fine example of what a little vision, enthusiasm and collaboration can provide for young people who want to fish. Dreamstore is delighted to have been able to assist in the development of this initiative and wishes the school and its pupils many happy days angling.