‘Moving On’ is an initiative addressing young people’s transition between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, and Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, in Nottingham. This case study describes how, by working in partnership with the local authority and Bulwell Education Action Zone (EAZ), schools in north Nottingham have developed an increasing level of confidence and independence in the delivery of residential experiences and outdoor learning to support young people in their transition between key stages.
The best outcomes for schools and young people are achieved when the school fully engages with the community that surrounds it. This not only includes the physical community within which the school resides, but the wider educational community with which it works. Historically the key partner has been its local authority. However, as the educational landscape changes, the nature of this partnership is also changing. In recent years, schools have also benefited from other partnerships to support school improvement and development, EAZs being a good example. This particular initiative was born out of the developing relationship between schools in Bulwell (situated in the north of Nottingham), Bulwell EAZ and Nottingham City Council.
Supporting transition through residentials
The use of residentials to help with pupils’ transition between key stages resulted from a chance opportunity to take a mixed group of young people, of different ages and from different schools, on a visit to Keswick Youth Hostel. The local authority had established a working partnership with the Youth Hostel Association and wished to cement the relationship by taking a group of young people away to a Youth Hostel. Schools in Bulwell were chosen because they had an active EAZ that was both receptive to the idea and interested in taking a mixed group away.
Transition between key stages was recognised as an issue that caused some concern in the local schools and the opportunity to take a group of young people from KS1/KS2 and KS3 was seen as a positive step in addressing the issue.
This initial residential was delivered through Nottingham’s Outdoor Learning Service, which worked very closely with the EAZ as the main contact with the schools.
The planning of this residential, involving over 90 pupils of different ages, from eight primary schools and two secondary schools, was a challenging prospect. The visit, though, was a huge success and all age groups and schools mixed and worked together extremely well. In fact, the experience was so positive that further residentials were planned at Hartington Youth Hostel in succeeding years. However, although our basic evaluation and feedback from the experience was very positive, it lacked rigour.
In 2009 the Paul Hamlyn Foundation launched Learning Away and called for schools and clusters of schools to apply. The local authority initially coordinated the bid for funding, working closely with the EAZ and the Bulwell schools. A lead school, Crabtree Farm Primary, soon emerged. The head teacher from Crabtree did much to support the proposal across the schools, backed by both the Bulwell Academy and its sponsor, Edge.
The partnership bid was eventually successful and as a result an extended and more fully evaluated programme emerged. We called the PHF-funded programme Moving On.
Within the extended programme, residentials to Hartington Youth Hostel continued and were joined by a new development: a low-cost camping experience for Key Stage 1 pupils within the old walled garden of Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. This element of the programme was led by the Outdoor Learning Service, but began to receive increasing support from schools in Bulwell, including Bulwell Academy, which offered trained sports leaders to work with the primary schools when they were on the camp.
Growing the programme – more schools, sites and support, increased confidence and independence
One outcome from the Moving On programme was the huge growth in demand for these Key Stage 1 Camps at Wollaton Hall. After the first year, other schools soon heard of the provision and wanted to join in. We now offer seven weeks of camping over the summer, sold out entirely through word of mouth as more schools across the City heard about the Bulwell schools’ experiences. This has been a great example of how projects such as ‘Moving On’ can have a massive ripple effect beyond the immediate recipients. The demand for camping has been so great we have gone on to develop further opportunities at Newstead Abbey, which is owned by the City Council, initiated through the Bulwell schools involved in Moving On. Newstead Abbey is now used by schools from across the city. More recently, we have investigated the possibility of using Brackenhurst College, part of Nottingham Trent University.
Another positive consequence of the Moving On programme has been the increased demand from schools for support in delivering and integrating outdoor learning into the curriculum. The Outdoor Learning Service uses the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel Outdoor Learning and Environmental Learning Cards as a means of integrating, and training school staff to integrate, outdoor learning into the curriculum. The Service initially worked with schools from the Moving On programme in Bulwell, but now offers support and training to schools across the city.
As the programme progressed, there emerged a growing trend for the EAZ and schools in the cluster to take increased responsibility for managing and leading the experiences. This has been a very natural progression as staff in the EAZ and schools have grown in confidence and felt more able to manage complex visits on their own. This shift in responsibility is an essential development towards sustaining the programme.
Another key residential soon developed out of Moving On (illustrating just how well the EAZ and schools had begun to develop their own residentials): the Academy Camp. Bulwell Academy created its own school holiday pattern, a two-week half term enabling the site to be used as a camp for Year 3/4 pupils during the second of these weeks. The camp, which takes place within the school grounds, was led and established by the Bulwell schools and EAZ with very little direct support from the Outdoor Learning Service. Encouraged by the EAZ, the schools work together to run an overnight camp for two classes. The activities are jointly run by staff from the schools and sports leaders from the Academy. This more independent approach has become the evolving pattern for all residentials, as the EAZ and its schools have taken a growing lead in the organisation and planning.
Sustainability and legacy
The gradual process of moving the ownership and organisation of the residentials to the schools and EAZ is not only a huge testament to the way they have developed and grown, but has also ensured the sustainability of the programme as a whole.
The programme has taken on a life of its own. All the camps are now running in their own right and have continued to grow, expanding into more locations to meet increasing demand for places. As a result the project has had a lasting impact beyond Bulwell and across the city as a whole. Nottingham schools are now more confident in using residential experiences and the outdoors for the benefit of their pupils and the continued use of Key Stage 3/4 sports leaders to support their feeder schools is contributing to improving the transition experience.