24. Junior River Wardens

Themes: Community engagement and participation; Improving water quality and water quantity


  • Improve local knowledge and understanding of the river and the issues facing it
  • Increase public access to and involvement in the river
  • Educate the general public and local businesses about its role in water quality and quantity improvements

Project description

Groundwork works with local schools and community groups on the Junior River Wardens project. 

Junior River Wardens is an engagement project that will give local children an appreciation of the dynamic nature of rivers, their function as an urban biodiversity hot spot and their benefit to the local population.  Pupils will get to consider what will happen if the climate were to change and rainfall and run-off increases.

What are the outcomes of Junior River Wardens?

  • To understand that rivers are part of active drainage basins and react quickly to changes in rainfall.
  • To appreciate rivers as places of rich biodiversity, that support both terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals.
  • To identify the signs and symptoms of pollution in urban rivers.
  • To recognise the benefits that rivers offer to the local population in terms of recreation and wellbeing.

During 2022 Groundwork will be inviting schools and uniformed youth groups to join us once again at the River Lea in Luton for Junior River Wardens.  As part of the Environment Agencies ‘resilient and adaptive communities’  programme young people will have the opportunity to explore ideas around the impact of climate change on local river systems.

Who can become a Junior River Warden?

The Junior River Wardens sessions are open to all pupils in Key Stages 2 – 4 (ages 7 to 16) and will be tailored to suit the age group.  Teachers can also request a specific focus for their river trip based on the requirements of the curriculum.  Sessions usually last for half a day (either before or after lunch).

Your JRW package

You can expect the following:

  • An activity to complete in school before your session – to gauge existing knowledge
  • A health walk from your school to the river
  • Water quality testing and observations of river morphology and flow
  • A study of the animal life in the river
  • Observational drawing of the river site
  • A piece of illustrated writing to complete after the visit

Teacher training CPD

All teaching staff are also offered a free after hours CPD session at the river.  A great session for thinking about managing risk on field trips, how to use an outdoor learning space, how to run a field trip and the benefits to pupils of outdoor learning.

To book your places, please contact Rosie Cliffe on:  07736 134135 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Previous years

Since April 2018, with funding from the Environment Agency, a further 14 group activities have taken place through the Junior River Warden project, including nine new and five returning school and community groups. At the end of the year the Big Count event was held in Manor Park in October 2018 to display all the data collected over the year and to celebrate the work being done to improve the river. See project 32. 

During this period Groundwork has also led a number of continual professional development (CPD) teacher training events, giving teachers and group leaders training on how to run a successful field trip to the river. Each received a certificate for their CPD portfolio.

Groundwork is currently looking into funding options to run further JRW activities and will be keeping the website up to date with developments.

The project was launched in April 2016 with funding from Thames Water Community Investment fund. The two-year programme engaged 12 local schools and four youth groups in monitoring activities, identifying non-native species, litter and pollution monitoring.

Year 2 of the project culminated in a schools and community engagement event, The Big Count, where community training sessions were given to interested people, to kick-start another stage of the project: RiverLUTiON Volunteer River Wardens. 


Project lead: Groundwork East
Funding source: Thames Water Community Investment Fund
Project start: September 2016
Contact for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Design by LTD Design Consultants and build by Garganey Consulting.