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20 February 2015
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These television programmes are designed to support the KS2 Geography curriculum. The series examines the interdependence of humans and physical environments and has an issue-based approach.
About the Programme

Programme 6 - In the Balance
Friday, 15 February 2002

ARCHIVE - SELB programme code :TJ 2125

This episode is now part of our archive. This programme is still available to schools to borrow or purchase from the Audio Visual Recording service at the SELB. Please quote the SELB programme code in your correspondence. See our ordering page for more information.

This programme tells us the story of the Quoile Pondage in County Down and how it has changed from an important transport and trade route in the past to a peaceful freshwater habitat in the present day. A key theme in the programme is how man has made use of this environment, changed and protected it.

The programme covers curriculum areas such as Geography, History and Science.

Image of a swanFor centuries the Quoile River was a link between Strangford Lough and the town of Downpatrick, a tidal estuary which often flooded. .Many attempts were made to solve the flooding problem and it was finally resolved with the creation in 1957 of a tidal barrier at Hare Island. The construction of this tidal barrier turned the Quoile into a freshwater habitat known as the Quoile Pondage. This has resulted in the natural colonisation of the former seashore by marsh plants and reed beds, rushy grassland, alder and willow. The Quoile is now a wonderful freshwater habitat for many varieties of plants, insects, fish and birds, and attracts migrating waterfowl and waders.

So it’s hard to believe that this peaceful spot was once a bustling area forming part of an important transport route.

Image of a forestIn early times it was a safe haven for people who settled there. Missionaries travelled across the Irish Sea, into Strangford Lough and down the Quoile River, founding places of worship such as Inch Abbey. Saint Patrick is known to have travelled down the Quoile River and hence the main town of the area, Downpatrick, is named after him. Downpatrick grew to be an important and thriving settlement.

In 1717 the Quoile Quay was built and served as a busy port for Downpatrick and the surrounding area for over 200 years. A steamer service even operated to Liverpool from Steamboat Quay.

This programme helps us to understand the rich and varied history of the Quoile and its environment by explaining how its use by man has changed over the years.

Image of a fisherman instructing pupilsIn the programme we see P6 pupils from Downpatrick Primary School who are carrying out a class project on the Quoile Pondage. We observe the class making models of things that can be found in the Quoile River (which can be viewed from the classroom window) and painting some of the birds that can be seen there. Presenter Mark Patterson is accompanied around the Pondage and its surrounding area by four pupils from the class. Here they find historical evidence in the form of the wreck of an old wooden ship which was used to transport goods to Downpatrick from far away. The children then discover Steamboat Quay, and from this learn about the kinds of goods imported to the area. The pupils further discover how the flooding problem was solved and investigate how this manmade solution entirely changed the environment of the Quoile.

The group study the freshwater habitat and the life forms that it now supports - minibeasts, plants, birds and fish - and discuss food chains and lifecycles.

The programme closes with birdwatching and an encounter with a fly-fisherman on the banks of the Quoile.
After the Programme
Expected Learning Outcomes:

The pupils will learn:Image of a duck
  • Location and nature of the Quoile Pondage
  • History of the Quoile Pondage
  • Flooding problem and how it was solved
  • How making a tidal barrier changed the Quoile Pondage
  • About the variety of wildlife in and around the Quoile
  • Man’s use today of the Quoile.
Opportunities For Study Across The Curriculum

Geography : -

Northern Ireland mapwork
  • Location of County Down, Strangford Lough, Downpatrick, Quoile River, Quoile Pondage: basic mapping skills.
  • This could develop into a study of other loughs/rivers in N. Ireland
Man’s changing use of a river
  • The Quoile as a transport route
  • Trade – imports and export
  • Transport and trading across N. Ireland in the past and present day.
Settlement study
  • Other towns in N. Ireland which are located on rivers/loughs.
Man changing the environment
  • Building of dams and reservoirs
  • Reclaiming land from the sea eg. Belfast Lough
  • Deforestation
  • Local to global study
  • What is flooding and what causes it?
  • Where else in N. Ireland and globally do you get flooding?
  • What effect does it have on human life and activities?
  • How has it been managed?
Science: -

HabitatsImage of a fish
  • What is a habitat?
  • What different types of habitat are there in Northern Ireland?
  • What different types of habitat are there across the world?
  • Importance of a habitat.
  • The variety of life (plant, animal, insect, bird, fish) in a habitat.
  • Why do different life forms live in different habitats?
  • Adaptation of life forms to different habitats?
  • Study the foodchain that is supported in a particular habitat.
  • Frog.
  • Insect.
  • Plant.
  • Fish.
  • Bird.
Freshwater study
  • Compare to saltwater environment.
Birdlife in the Quoile Pondage
  • Study the birds found there – appearance, plumage, colour, feeding, nesting
  • Migration – which birds migrate, when and why?
  • Study the visiting (migrating) birds – where have they come from?
History: -
  • Quoile as a transport route in the past.
  • Early settlement of man.
  • Saint Patrick.
  • Vikings.
ICT: -
  • Create a database of wildlife - use the information for graph work.
  • www links to access further information and extend learning.
Art and Design: -
  • Artwork of wildlife - employ a variety of mediums.
  • Design and build models of the wildlife.
  • Create a model of the Quoile River.
    Geography Programmes
    Programme 1:
    Strating Grid:
    Programme 2:
    Here and There:
    Programme 3:
    Go with the Flow
    Programme 4:
    Green Power
    Programme 5:
    Sustainable Development
    Programme 6:
    In the Balance
    Programme 7:
    Lough Neagh
    Programme 8:
    Programme 9:
    Extreme Weather
    Can't find your subject? Visit our archive section where you can find programmes supporting other curricular subjects, including: Geography, History, Citizenship and English.

    Visit the archive.

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