PUPILS from Dorcan Academy, who are part of a junior flood action group, took to the water on Tuesday as part of a team building exercise.

With the aid of Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, they went to Coate Water and practised vital life saving techniques.

Although they are unlikely to need the skills in the flood group, it is hoped the day will help them to work as a closer unit.

The youngsters, who are aged from 11 to 16, spent the morning in the classroom before donning their wetsuits and braving the cold of Coate Water.

“I think they had a really good day and it was fun all around,” said Grace Martin, the Community Resilience Officer with the National Flood Forum.

“The aim of the day was to get them working together. “As they are from different year groups they are not likely to spend much time with each other in school so this was an opportunity to bring them together.

“Being able to get out of the classroom really helped to get across what we were trying to and the fire service being there also helped. “I think with the pupils being able to see them down for the day they saw what we doing was serious.”

The action group has been set up as part of the Defra Pathfinder project, which is seeking to raise awareness of flooding. It is a project focusing on East Swindon, the area most at risk from flooding in the town.

A number of different agencies are working together, including the council and Environment Agency, to develop a plan for residents on what to do and how to react if heavy floods strike again, as happened in 2007.

Grace said: “What we want the children is to talk to their friends, neighbours and maybe primary schools as well. “We want them to give a presentation so these activities where they learn how to work as a team will benefit that.

“What we want them to do is really important for their community.”

“We are hoping if this initial group is successful then we will be able to roll it out across the county, even if not in exactly the same form.”

The idea behind setting up groups in schools is so the group of 14 can increase resilience amongst their peers.