Pupil project floats a boat

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Pupils from a north Derbyshire school are enjoying life in an outdoor classroom with a difference – their own narrowboat.

Youngsters at Eckington School fitted out the boat from scratch during nearly three years of after-class sessions which started after the boat was delivered as an empty shell in autumn 2011.

Eckington School's narrow boat being repainted prior to its launch at the Chesterfield Canal Trust's festival at Stavely Town Basin on June 28, 2014

Eckington School's narrow boat being repainted prior to its launch at the Chesterfield Canal Trust's festival at Stavely Town Basin on June 28, 2014

The project was finally completed when it was hoisted by crane into the Staveley Town Basin, part of Chesterfield Canal.

The craft, which has been named Madeline, was then the centre of attention at Chesterfield Canal Trust’s annual festival.

Most of the pupils who worked on the boat were aged 14 to 16 and studying an alternative curriculum designed to provide qualifications which could be relevant to their future careers.

Teaching assistant Gill Parker said the finished boat was now worth about £70,000.

She said: “Some of our pupils had trained on a boat owned by Chesterfield Canal Trust, learning how to helm the craft, how to carry out routine engine checks and how to navigate it through locks.

“The idea of creating a new boat from start to finish sprang from there and we commissioned the shell from ABC Boats in Boston.”

The plan is that Madeline will also be used as a floating classroom by Eckington School’s feeder primary schools.