The Story of Water

Thames Festival Trust is delighted to have launched an international art project for primary schools this year called The Story of Water.

Schools in Newham, Warrington, Halton, Peterborough and Lagos have started their journey by taking part on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions, art workshops and international partnership meetings. Based on a new educational resource pack, schools have begun to develop a host of work including poetry, artwork, displays and whole school Global Goal learning.


  • Elmhurst Primary School
  • Maryland Primary School
  • Southern Road Primary School
  • St. Joachim's Catholic Primary School
  • Calverton Primary School
  • Keir Hardie Primary School


  • Orton Wistow Primary School
  • West Town Primary School
  • Leighton Primary School
  • William Law Primary School
  • Beeches Primary School
  • Southfields Primary School


  • Chapelford Village Primary School
  • Widnes Academy
  • Burtonwood Community Primary School
  • Fairfield Primary School
  • Farnworth CE Primary School
  • Penketh South Primary

Case Study from Andy Moore at Leighton Primary School

At Leighton Primary School, two Year 3 classes took part in The Story of Water project. We began with an initial assessment which, as we suspected, revealed that most children were very unsure of what a river was and how it was different to other bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, the sea and streams. It also showed that the children had very limited awareness of what could be done to look after our environment which for most children was limited to not dropping litter and switching taps and lights off.

We taught the children about rivers and their features, and we spent a day in Nene Park doing a range of activities close to and connected to the River Nene.

The following day we began our Art project, led by artist Stuart Payn, which took place over three days. On the first day the children experimented with mark-making and spray-painting with stencils. The outcomes were used on the second day to make individual collaged fish, and then on the final day to produce a final group collage of a river scene. These collages were photographed and combined digitally to produce a permanent river tableau which will be mounted on a wall by the main entrance of the school.

Alongside the art project, we have also written descriptive river poems and have learnt about the plastic crisis, its impact on river and marine life and potential solutions.

Moving forward, we have incorporated the Rivers of the World units of work into the Geography curriculum for each year group in Key Stage Two, and we plan for our classes once they move into Year 4 to learn about our partner school's country, Morocco and to conduct an art project based on their local river.

The children have really enjoyed working with a professional artist, and have learnt many new skills from Stuart. Already an artistic class, he has inspired many of the children to pursue their artwork. The children have also begun a learning journey which will continue over the next four years which will make them much more aware of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development and of their own impact on climate and the environment.

What the Teachers Said

  • ““I really enjoyed the CPD and I think it is a great initiative. There are many strengths to the project but overall it is great that we have the opportunity to broaden ours and our children’s understanding and knowledge of international schools, environmental issues and global geography in a very real and meaningful way.” ”
    Rubina Rehman, teacher, Elmhurst Primary School
  • ““Overall the strength of the project was being able to involve everyone across the school and the great artist sessions. Amazing! I have loved it!” ”
    Peter Richards, teacher, William Law CE Primary School
  • ““The CPD provided inspirational art ideas which could be used across the curriculum. There was a very clear explanation of the Story of Water and the education resources. Good networking opportunities.””
    Richard Jones, teacher, Farnworth CE Primary

What the Pupils Said

  • ““I liked using rubbish as collage because it showed us how dangerous rubbish in the water is for animals.””
    Pupil from Southfields Primary School
  • ““We got to lean and use different techniques and make lots of artwork.””
    Pupil from Southfields Primary School​
  • ““It was very fun and I learnt many different techniques. It taught me not to litter and that I can express my imagination.””
    Pupil from William Law Primary School​​

A Poem: The River Nene

Green reeds waving out of the river

As sharp as a dangerous knife

Swirling like a hypnotiser

Sticking out swishing and swaying

Whirling like an octopuses tentacles

Lily-pads like trampolines for frogs

Dancing on top of the water

Feathery swans as white as a cloud

Hunting for prey hungrily

Passed the narrow boats one called Sophia

Eyes tiny like glimmering black marbles

Beaks as neon orange as can be

By Kayla

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