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Sir Ben Ainslie and wife call for oceans to feature in National Curriculum

The Olympic sailor said bringing oceans into school classrooms was an issue close to his heart.

The ocean should be part of the National Curriculum for children from a young age, Olympic sailor Sir Ben Ainslie has said.

Sir Ben and his wife Lady Ainslie called for knowledge of the ocean as well as the challenge of plastics to be taught to pupils.

They have both been announced as ocean ambassadors for the National Marine Aquarium (NMA), which has a national school outreach programme.

The couple, who live on the Isle of Wight, are concerned that young people can go through their education without learning about the ocean.

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Sir Ben Ainslie (Andrew Matthews/PA)

This is despite it representing the largest living space on the planet.

Sir Ben told the Press Association: “It is the holistic approach about what the ocean is about and then coming on to the challenge of plastics in the ocean and eliminating single use plastics.

“Getting them inspired about the ocean and ocean conservation and pushing them to take part in effecting change.”

If you love something, you want to protect it Lady Ainslie

Sir Ben said the issue was “very close to my heart”, particularly as the couple’s daughter Bellatrix is now two-and-a-half.

He described the need for children to learn about oceans and conservation as “absolutely critical”.

His wife said: “The problems our oceans are facing aren’t just relevant to our lives now but will be to her life.

“We learn about the Earth in schools but we really need to learn about our oceans. If you love something, you want to protect it.”

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Santa Monica beach and the Pacific Ocean (William Conran/PA)

The couple visited a primary school in Plymouth on Tuesday and watched pupils take a lesson from the NMA.

“They were completely enthralled and fascinated,” Lady Ainslie said.

The NMA project uses tools including virtual reality to teach children about the underwater world.

“That sort of interactive method of teaching really hits home – they really get it,” she said.

“If they understand that message at such a young age, it will become ingrained in them. They will end up being the educators.”

Sir Ben said the aim was to build the outreach programme across 20 sites in the UK by 2024.

Ambassadors such as the couple will teach school children about the oceans and how to effect change.

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The Skelligs off Ireland’s Atlantic coast (Brian Lawless/PA)

The NMA is asking the Department for Education and other statutory bodies to support teachers in adding marine elements to the National Curriculum.

Roger Maslin is chief executive officer of the NMA, which is based in Plymouth, Devon.

“It’s great that Ben and his family have joined our growing team of Ocean Ambassadors and are passionate about helping us on our journey to support teachers to include marine topics in their teaching of the curriculum,” Mr Maslin said.

“In the future, our ultimate goal is to see the Ocean added as a core topic across a variety of subjects within the National Curriculum.

“As a charity we have set a target of reaching one million school children and families per year, within the next five years, and with Ben and Georgie’s strong connection with sport and the oceans, they will play an important role in helping us to achieve this.”

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