Education and adventure – taking pride in performance on residentials

Key features

  • Personalising the learning experience so that students take ownership of process
  • Residentials contribute to a varied and enriching curriculum
  • Empowering all students to realise their personal and social potential

Lewis Charlton is an independent learning centre for students aged 11-19 with social, emotional and mental health difficulties and an Education Health and Care Plan. It is based in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire. At Lewis Charlton the focus is on empowering students to realise their personal and social potential by presenting personalised curricular opportunities and community responsibilities in a manner that enables individuals to understand that their experiences are relevant, their feelings validated and their contribution meaningful.

Lewis Charlton is a Learning Away Champion School. In this case study, Tony Louca-Weston, explains how their brilliant residential experiences form a crucial part of combining pupils adventure and education.

It has been highlighted in many inspections that pupil achievement and the enjoyment of learning plays is effective and a valuable part of the students learning experiences. It is also recognised that outdoor learning experiences contribute to a varied and enriching curriculum.

With this in mind, and Lewis Charlton’s firm belief in personalising the learning experience for all pupils, the ‘Edventure’ programme was created.

We believe that through the implementation of this adventure based learning experience we are able to deliver specific learning outcomes through practical, creative and engaging approaches that are beneficial to all. Our residential programme offers the opportunity for young people to develop their subject knowledge in a range of contexts, whilst also promoting literacy and numeracy through a variety of experiences. The programme also promotes key skills such as independence , helping to prepare the young person for adulthood.

The programme has a proven track record in developing personal qualities which are in demand in the modern workplace and underpin successful social development – independence, problem solving ability, discipline, team working and confidence. The programme helps students develop and achieve personal learning & thinking skills through an adventure and enquiry based approach. For example, students learn how to take initiative in planning journeys into the wilderness and urban environments (self management), how to work with others to initiate and carry out co-operative tasks (team worker) and practice building hypotheses and theories (independent enquirer) and then use evidence to test them (effective participant).

Lewis Charlton wholly believes, as stated by Professor David Hopkins (Professor of Education), that by learning through adventure the pupils learn not only the content but also the ability to approach future learning tasks with confidence. Furthermore, learning through adventure provides a reliable means for developing a distinctive school ethos, supportive of personal development, the achieving of high standards and encouraging student and parental choice.

How are your residentials integrated with the school curriculum and ethos?

At Lewis Charlton the focus is on empowering students to realise their personal and social potential by presenting curricular opportunities and community responsibilities in a manner that enables individuals to understand that their experiences are relevant, their feelings validated and their contribution meaningful. Our residentials are the end step in a year long programme of Adventurous Activities, during which time the pupils learn the skills which will then be used when ‘out and about’.

How have you developed your residentials so that they are part of a progressive programme of experiences?

The pupils on the ‘Edventure; programme follow a year long scheme of work during which time they learn a variety of skills. These skills are then ‘put to the test’ during the residential experience.

How have you designed your residentials so that they include a wide range of new and memorable experiences?

Our residential involves taking urban children into the rural Peak District on a one week camping experience. During this time the pupils experience a wealth of new and memorable activities, including:

Walking up Kinder Scout “The hardest and best experience of my life” Year 10 pupil. Discovering WW2 plane wrecks “I can’t believe that they were just lying there” (Year 9 pupil) Learning about the ‘bouncing bomb’ at Ladybower Reservoir. and much much more.

During the residential we also build on individual targets, promoting personal growth. This might include:

  • Perseverance – walking for a mile despite difficulty.
  • Independence – coping whilst being away from home
  • Organisation skills – Ensuring that their rucksack contains everything needed for the task at hand.

To help plan and monitor our residentials we have produced an in-house Adventurous Activities Framework. This framework has been produced to support those students that are unable to engage in formal learning experiences, due to a variety of reasons, so that in time each young person will be able to re-engage with further education/the world of work and independent living. Allowing that young person to contribute to society in a positive and more confident manner.

This framework is the purpose and underpins all activities. It is cross-referenced with ‘Personal Learning and Thinking Skills’ in order to progress each child’s development and build on the gaps that have been missed out on in early development.

With this in mind we also attempt to fill other gaps that may have been missed out in childhood, experiences such as beach holidays, cooking together, playing games together, chatting together. One young person stated that their favourite part of the whole experience was during the evening when we all drank hot chocolate, chatted together and played card games.

Are your residentials inclusive and affordable for all your students? How do you ensure this happens?

All pupils on our Edventure program are offered the chance to attend the residential free of charge, the camping, the food and the activities are all provided. All pupils, regardless of ability, are differentiated and catered for .

How are your residentials supported by your senior leadership team?

The Senior Leadership team is 100 % behind the programme and has funded and promoted the residential for the last three years. The Edventure programme continues to be on the school development plan so that students continue to have a high quality, exciting provision.

How and why do you plan your residentials with learning objectives to meet students’ specific learning needs?

Lewis Charlton believes that by personalising the learning experience it is expected the students come to invest in progress and take ownership of process. Each student is aware of their current level within the program and what they need to do to progress.

How are your residentials led by teachers (and, where/when appropriate, students)?

The residential experience is planned and ran by the Edventure Manager (a teacher) with support from a highly skilled Educarer (a member of Learning Support). The pupils are also fully involved in the decision making experience when 3

on site; they help to decide on the route to be walked, the order that activities are to be completed, the food that is packed/cooked etc.

How do you involve students in planning your residentials?

Although the crux of the planning is completed by staff before leaving, the students are involved in the fine tuning. They help plan which activity is undertaken on what day, how far they believe they can manage in a walk and adjust routes accordingly, take into account weather forecasts in planning activities etc.

How are your residentials designed to allow students to develop collaborative relationships with peers and staff?

The Edventure experience is very much built on the ‘we’re in it together’ mentality, everything that is asked of the pupils the staff undertake too! I believe that this helps the bonding experience tremendously. Even to the extent that one night there was a torrential downpour which resulted in the tents leaking. A pupil happened to walk out of their tent at the same time as a staff member, they looked at each other and saw how wet they both were and laughed. The pupils showed real strength during that time showing ​persevere with good humour in the face of discomfort.

How do you evaluate the impact of your residentials to ensure that they do meet those learning objectives?

Following the residential, all pupils complete a portfolio of evidence to document their experience. We also document their successes through an in-house ‘Adventurous Assessment Framework”, during which time we focus on such outcomes as:

  • Social Awareness
  • Environmental Awareness
  • Enjoyment
  • Broadened Horizons

How do you try to embed and reinforce the learning once back in school?

When the pupils return to school they then begin their 2nd year of Edventure. This scheme of work reiterates and builds upon the skills learnt during the previous year and during the residential experience.

The second years Scheme of Work begins by raising the students navigation skills up to Silver award level of the National Navigation Award Scheme. Following this we then introduce the concept of woodland craft work, using specialised tools. As a first skill we teach the pupils how to carve a mallet and pegs from tree limbs, the pupils then combine this skill, with their previously acquired tarp skills, in order to create shelters. Later on in the year they then learn new skills, building on their ability to survive and sustainably manage the environment that they are within.