Following two days sat at my laptop, developing ideas and material for Evolve SI as part of their long-term XLR8 Transition Programme, this weekend saw a return north, where I was given the welcome opportunity to reacquaint myself with a very wintry Pen-y-Ghent, one of the Three Peaks within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As we walked, my friends Ed Roe and Cat Steel talked about their travels and experiences: dry stone walling, sheep shearing in Iceland, as well as trekking in the Himalayas and the Grand Canyon. These conversations reminded me of two events:
Working at Oakworth First School, Peter Hey, who was Head Teacher at the time, suggested that the Year 4 children could successfully complete the Three Peak Challenge. The Friday Walk Club was thus born, mini-buses were booked, maps were perused and supplies bought.
Week 1 we would climb Pen-Y-Ghent (691 metres), Week 2 would be the turn of Ingleborough (723 metres), Week 3 would be Whernside (728 metres) and Week 4 would be all three combined, including 24.5 miles of walking in less than 12 hours. Bearing in mind these were Year 4 children, not Year 6, a certain amount of Kidology was needed. On Week 4, when a child asked, “Are we there yet?” the reply started with, “Well…you remember when we climbed Pen-Y-Ghent…well…”
Needless to say, the experiences of such expeditions would stay with these learners forever. These experiences allowed the learners opportunities to develop courage, self-belief, enthusiasm, resilience, teamwork and more.
The other event that came to mind during the descent was that of a Training Day for the My BD5 cluster, including Bowling Park, Marshfield and Newby Primary Schools. The keynote speaker for this event was the inimitable Mick Waters, who asked the assembled delegates to think of their learners and their needs. We were then asked to devise a list of opportunities that a child should experience while at primary school.
With this in mind, I have started to compile my own suggestions…a sort of Bucket List for Primary Children. Obviously, one experience would be to climb a mountain. The others, in no particular order would include: visit a theatre, rehearse and perform their own work live on stage, work with an artist, exhibit and curate their own work, make a film, meet an author, ride a horse, study the local area and contrast it with another, learn to read a map, visit a foreign country, interview someone who lived during World War II, create a meal, float on a boat, create a blog, lead others in an area in which they have a passion, go into a forest, build a den, go underground…
Where possible, I would use public transport so that children develop life skills such as the ability to read timetables and know how to conduct themselves in public.
What would be in your list?
How would your own wish-list of experiences fit with where your school is currently at and where it is going? Is it possible to follow what we believe in within the current economic and education climates?
Such experiences take time to plan and organise, funding arrangements and Risk Assessments can be complex and parents can sometimes be difficult to ‘win over’. However, you will be creating opportunities that learners will feel, hold and remember, often creating a springboard for further personal exploration.