Hooking teens to learning through fishing! That is an innovative programme evolved in Wales.
A fishing school, set up by youth worker Luke Richards seeks to help students improve their English, maths and science and gain qualifications by learning outdoors.
A pilot scheme, which involved pupils aged 14 to 16 from Willows High School, Cardiff, has proved so successful that Luke hopes he can widen the net to other schools this year.
"The course, called Inclusion Through Angling, began as a community angling project based in Willows High," said Mr Richards. "The main aim was to reward some of the schools most disaffected and disengaged pupils who were meeting their agreed targets for behaviour and attendance, while at the same time introducing them to an activity that would promote lifelong learning."
Luke set up the project in 2007 while working full-time as a youth worker at the school in Tremorfa. Soon he realised its potential. "The difference that the project was making to the pupils at our school was really inspiring and I knew that what I was developing had the potential to be rolled out across the city with similar results."
The fishing school was set up at Cefn Mably Lakes outside Cardiff, with support from John and Owen Jones, who own the commercial coarse fishery. They paid for a new classroom, which opened on the car park. The students gave up their Saturday mornings to take lessons in the classroom before putting into practice what they had learned on the lakes.
All eight of the teenagers on the pilot passed the National Open College Network Introduction to Angling and the Environment course and have gained the Sports leaders UK L1 award in sports leadership, which ensures the new angling enthusiasts can develop their coaching skills.
Mr Richards added: "Over five months our group fell firmly into the routine of having me pick them up every Saturday at 8.30am, take them to Cefn Mably Lakes, spend two to three hours in a classroom before fine tuning their practical angling skills throughout the afternoon.
"In addition to watching the boys develop their angling skills and working towards two nationally-recognised qualifications, my fellow coach Bob Mitchell and I watched the boys become calmer, more self- disciplined, more organised and all round more mature and self- respected young men."
Steve Davies, Deputy Head of Willows High School, said: "The pupils who participated in the Inclusion Through Angling project benefited from their experience in many ways.
"All the pupils demonstrated their determination and motivation to succeed by participating willingly and regularly in their own time.
"This is something they were not always able to show in the more formal school setting. They clearly feel a strong sense of identity and loyalty to the group and the project.
"They know they are valued members of the group and consequently have invested time and effort to achieve the aims of the course. Their self-esteem has received a significant boost and they are justifiably proud of their achievements.
"This resulting improvement in motivation, self-esteem and attitude can only be beneficial, both in and out of school, as it enables the pupils concerned to look at their learning opportunities in a new and more positive light."
Mr Richards told Wales Online: "Having worked in secondary schools with challenging young people for a number of years, I know that the benefits of angling are undeniable and can provide real benefits to the schools that deliver the sport.