Last weekend we managed to take all of our new Year 7 pupils off to a residential 2 day camp for outdoor and team building activities after only a couple of weeks in school.
This has been an ambition of mine for a few years and I am delighted it finally happened – and what a success it was too! It gave all the children the opportunity to meet everyone in the year group, make new friends, get to know the Year 7 tutor team and tackle some personal challenges too!
Raft building; zip wire; all terrain vehicles; problem solving; sensory trail; shared dorms, and of course a disco – all combined to create a wonderful opportunity for all children to enjoy.
Although they had only been in school less than 2 weeks, I was so impressed to see how the children showed a great sense of fun and engagement. They recognised when individuals struggled with a challenge, such as the leap of faith off the 12m zip wire platform. There was no sign of impatience or mockery when some children found this a truly scary moment. As I stood on the platform, the voices I heard below expressed complete support and encouragement – followed by congratulations and backslapping! After years of teaching and numerous similar camps, I still found this uplifting and heart-warming – especially because these children had only been together for such a short time.
This is quite unlike the Rugby World Cup which has just started, where squads have been building to this for 4 years; one vision; totally focussed. For our Year 7s – from different schools, with different interests, varied experiences … it made the weekend even more special.
What qualities are developed though such experiences?
These opportunities give children a chance to learn and grow; a chance to explore their character and step outside their comfort zone – all key elements in a broad and balanced education … the kind that Westholme promotes with core values at its heart.
The independent sector is currently under siege and scrutiny from all angles; the political landscape is quite negative. But I do not see such experiences as privileged provision for the few – I see them as enriching opportunities that contribute to the personal development of every child. At Westholme children come first and that starts with our own pupils. What a gift and privilege that is! Surely our aim should be not to remove or undermine this experience but rather to extend and promote the benefits to all?
A weekend to treasure and I truly look forward to watching Year 7 grow and thrive.
Lynne M Horner
26th September 2019
Follow me on Twitter – @LynneMHorner