Beach Cleaning for groups and schools

Kids beach cleaning

Taking part in a beach clean and survey event is an excellent way of encouraging young people to connect with their local environment, take community responsibility and enjoy the great outdoors. Not only that, beach cleaning is an opportunity to take learning outside and into the local environment. Marine litter is a problem that we can all play a part in solving, and what better way to start than with a day at the beach?! 

Get Involved

There are heaps of opportunities to get involved. You could either join our year-round Beachwatch programme, with events held throughout the year, or the Great British Beach Clean, our yearly flagship event held on the third weekend in September around the UK. 

Whichever you decide to take part in, you can chose to sign up to a clean led by one of our Beachwatch volunteer organisers or you can register as an organiser yourself and lead your own beach clean for your group. Your school or group could even adopt the beach to survey four times a year. 

If you chose to run your own clean, we've all the information you'll need to help you get set up, it's not as tricky as it sounds! 

Before the day 

  • Register for your chosen event, making sure you check the 'groups' box and give the number in your group. 
  • Arrange adult helpers. We require the following MINIMUM adult/pupil ratios:

                                                 Under 7 1/6

                                                7 - 11 Years 1/10

                                               12 -16 Years 1/15

  • Discuss the event with your group, outlining expectations and, if pupils are to be surveying themselves, go through the survey form. For younger children the content may not be appropriate in which case an adult should survey for each group on the day. 
  • Organise pupils into groups of 4/5. Under 7s will need an adult per group to survey.
  • Use an interactive map to locate your local beach. Examine the map, identifying key features (compass points, land, ocean) to orientate children. Zoom in to examine features children may be familiar with, or that identify this particular beach (pier, esplanade, amusements etc). 
  • Discuss the safety details below and general organisation for the day with your students before you arrive at the beach. 
  • If you are looking for some activitites to lead at the beach, download your free copy of Teach on the Beach. It's packed with games, activities and advice for a fun-filled, educational day at the beach with your class or group. 

What to bring 

  • Drinking water in a re-useable bottle 

  • Suitable clothing, including closed shoes, rain coat and hat

  • Sun cream 

  • If you are going to have a packed lunch, challenge the children to try and bring foods with as little plastic packaging as possible 

On the day 

As there are obvious risks related to working on a beach, groups should be divided into smaller groups of 4/5, ideally with an adult working with each, for children under 11. This is to ensure both the safety of the children and the accuracy of the data recording. Please note, young people remain the responsibility of their class teacher or group leader at all times. 

Be sure to arrive in good time as there will be an important safety briefing given by the organiser. Young people should be encouraged to listen carefully and adult leaders should reiterate key points as necessary. Identify the survey area and make it clear to your group that they must not leave this area without permission. Please also reiterate the importance of surveying each piece of litter as the data is vital to our pollution work. 

Groups should work their way across the survey area collecting every man-made litter item that it is safe to pick up. Each item should be recorded on the survey form. The aim is to remove every bit of litter over the 100m stretch. This will then be collected and weighed. Adults should work with groups to help them identify and survey litter accurately. Survey forms and equipment should be handed in at the end. The results of the UK wide GBBC will be released later in the year and the data is used to inform our campaigns work.

Most importantly though, beach cleaning is a chance for children to have a bit of fun and be empowered to do their bit for nature, key skills for the modern world.