Schools sessions for 2016-17 concluded with an OPAL water survey conducted by the wonderful children from P4C at Canal View Primary School on 1 June. They trouped along the canal to Hailes Quarry Park, where they collected water samples and netted some interesting invertebrates to check the water quality of the Union Canal. Despite appearances – there is often a lot of litter in the canal here – the water came out top notch yet again, which is great news for the canal, great news for canal wildlife, and great news for the people of Wester Hailes!

All the children in the schools programme this year – and their class teachers – worked extra hard to earn their Discovery-level John Muir Awards. They learned lots about the Union Canal and the wildlife it supports, about boating on the canal and about the history and heritage of this amazing feature of our Edinburgh landscape. They took photos, did drawings, wrote a poem and made posters to raise awareness of the canal and how to keep it beautiful for future generations and safe for people and wildlife. And of course everyone enjoyed getting out into our outdoor canal classroom to feel the fresh air and see the sights… The children at Canal View and Tollcross Primary Schools were presented with their John Muir Award certificates, a water safety certificate, and a nice purple goody bag from the Scottish Waterways Trust as a thank you!

Both the Canal View children (P4c) and the Tollcross children also had the chance to become part of a new canal heritage initiative, the Union Canal Unlocked project, which is a Heritage Lottery-funded partnership between Re-Union Canal Boats, the Scottish Waterways Trust, Scottish Canals and Sustrans. The Canal View children worked with animation students at Edinburgh College of Art to produce three short animated films based on the history and heritage of the Union Canal. Meanwhile the P5s at Tollcross held an assembly where they sang the Union Canal Song by Robin Laing so beautifully that the songwriter himself came to visit the children and sing with them! The recording and excerpts from Robin’s Q&A session with the children will be included – along with the animations – in a smartphone app guide to the Union Canal which is being developed as part of the UCU project.