Outdoor Education at Abbotsholme

 Winter Mountaineering 2013 2 

The pioneering principles of outdoor education established at Abbotsholme have inspired such organisations as the Outward Bound Movement, the United World Colleges and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Outdoor education has a part to play in all young people’s development, no matter what their level of ability and experience. A combination of inspirational teaching and the use of positive role models raise aspirations and confidence, and helps with learning and achievement. This, in conjunction with reflection and review, contributes to the individual’s growth and development. This benefits other areas of their education and personal life, in terms of confidence, self-esteem, social awareness and decision-making. Not only this, it is real, fun and can be truly life changing.

During the first three years of senior school, outdoor education forms a specific part of the school curriculum. Each pupil does a whole afternoon of outdoor education, once per fortnight. This presents pupils with personal challenges, both physical and mental, and teaches them the importance of taking responsibility for themselves and for others.

Outdoor Education is an integral part of school life at Abbotsholme, providing excellent opportunities for developing bonds between pupils and staff and encouraging co-operative involvement. The whole school (staff and pupils alike) participates in a three-day expedition every Autumn term (‘Hikes’). During Hikes all pupils take part in a variety of journeys through the hills and mountains of the United Kingdom. In the summer term all year groups except the Year 11s and Upper Sixth have a summer camp. During ‘camps’ pupils are presented with a varied and progressive outdoor programme of new challenges as they progress through their school years.

As well as the timetabled outdoor education lessons there are regular weekend trips for all pupils, within the UK such as caving, walking, climbing, camping, canoeing, sea kayaking, mountain biking. Each year a specific number of weekends are targeted at individual year groups while there are also trips aimed to develop a high degree of proficiency in particular outdoor disciplines.

The Outdoor Education Department looks after training for the expedition element of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. All pupils in Year 9 undertake this training and complete their bronze expedition in the Peak District. Most of the Year 10s and Year 12s opt to continue with the Award and complete their Silver and Gold DofE expeditions, respectively. Most carry out a walking expedition, although in recent years groups have also planned and executed a bike journey in Sweden and a descent of the River Spey in Scotland, by open canoe.

There is also the opportunity to participate in adventures further afield. In recent years, small groups have experienced the excitement of multi pitch rock climbing and via ferratas in the Dauphine Alps; a 14 day self sufficient descent of the Missanaibi river in Canada; an expedition to Everest Base Camp and attempt on Imja Tse (Island Peak) Himalayas; trekking in Mallorca and trekking in the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

The school has an excellent safety record, supported by careful planning of the challenges, well-qualified and experienced leaders for activities and thorough briefing and training of the pupils.


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