An idea to build a school next to one of Cornwall's beaches has been described as a 'world first'.

Surf therapy charity The Wave Project has announced plans to build "the world’s first purpose-built beach school" in which to teach local children who struggle to engage with traditional school lessons and are at risk of permanent exclusion.

The new facility is planned for a site described as as being "in close proximity" to Gwithian Towans beach near Hayle.

Truro-based architects Lavigne Lonsdale have been briefed to lead on the design of the facility, with a public consultation on the project to now take place on May 15. This will be outside Sunset Surf at Gwithian Towans between 10am and 5pm, following Covid regulations.

Members of the public from the surrounding area are being invited to attend and will have the opportunity to hear The Wave Project and Lavigne Lonsdale present the proposal for the building, and answer questions about the project.

The Wave Project Beach School is described as an "evidence-based intervention" that combines outdoor learning and surfing with schemes of work that help children to re-engage with the idea of learning.

The concept is currently in operation at The Wave Project’s local projects across the country – but this would be the first time that a physical facility has been built for this purpose.

An example of the Wave Project in action. Picture: Checkered Photography

An example of the Wave Project in action. Picture: Checkered Photography

Children currently referred to The Wave Project beach school classes attend for one full day per week, during normal school time. This provides them with a break from school and helps them to reset their thinking about learning.

Spending most of the day in their wetsuits and learning outside, on the beach and in the sea, children attend lessons devised to incorporate the natural environment in the pupils’ learning.

The new beach school facility at Gwithian would be designed to accommodate up to 75 children each week, 15 per day.

Joe Taylor, founder and CEO of The Wave Project, said: “Beach School is a project that combines outdoor learning with the curriculum to support children who may not be achieving their full potential in education.

"This new facility has been designed with the needs of children in mind, offering them the chance to learn outside wherever possible, in an environment they find calming and supportive.

“We’re excited to be pioneering this groundbreaking model for education and look forward to partnering with local schools on this project. We hope it will provide a blueprint for other beach schools nationally – and worldwide – helping to reduce the number of children who fall out of the traditional education system all together."

The charity supports mental health through surfing. Picture: Checkered Photography

The charity supports mental health through surfing. Picture: Checkered Photography

The Wave Project is the UK's first surf therapy charity. Initially funded by the NHS as a pilot project in 2010, it aims to improve the wellbeing and confidence of young people who face mental health issues or social exclusion, offering a dedicated six-week course of one-to-one surfing support followed by the opportunity to join a social club to progress surfing and train to become volunteer helpers and mentors.

The charity said: "According to the NHS, one in six children had a diagnosed mental health issue in July 2020, compared with one in nine in 2017.

"Children with poorer mental health are far more likely to struggle at school, and some may end up being permanently excluded. In Cornwall, there are more children with social, emotional and mental health needs than across England as a whole; there were 90 permanent exclusions from schools in Cornwall in 2019/20, and 92 in 2018/19.

"The long-term cost of each of these children to public services is estimated at £370,000 each – a total cost of £33million per year in Cornwall alone."