The nonlinear and weakly dispersive Serre equations contain higher-order dispersive terms. These include mixed spatial and temporal derivative flux terms which are difficult to handle numerically. These terms can be replaced by an alternative combination of equivalent temporal and spatial terms, so that the Serre equations can be written in conservation law form. The water depth and new conserved quantities are evolved using a second-order finite-volume scheme. The remaining primitive variable, the depth-averaged horizontal velocity, is obtained by solving a second-order elliptic equation using simple finite differences. Using an analytical solution and simulating the dam-break problem, the proposed scheme is shown to be accurate, simple to implement and stable for a range of problems, including flows with steep gradients. It is only slightly more computationally expensive than solving the shallow water wave equations.