Key Features

Using student leaders to support camping residentials
Benefits for secondary students and primary pupils
Different approaches and challenges

The Bulwell partnership in Nottingham have concentrated on developing low cost, local one- and two-night camping residentials for primary children in order to make their residential experiences accessible for all. A sports leader programme for students at Bulwell Academy runs alongside the primary model. This case study follows the progression of one student leader who continued working with the Bulwell partnership even after she had left Bulwell Academy.

Anna left Bulwell Academy in 2012 and went to Derby University to study Sports Science. She had been a very keen Sports Leader whilst at the school. We had found her to be professional, fun, knowledgeable and innovative in her leadership role.

During her first year at Derby, Anna wrote to me explaining that she needed to complete a work placement for the summer tem and asked if Bulwell EAZ would take her on. We designed a bespoke programme for Anna and took the opportunity to ask her to be a ‘Leader of Leaders’. Although we felt that our Sports Leaders programme was good, on residential they sometimes felt they needed more support, particularly in Years 10 and 11. Anna’s role was to co-ordinate a group of twelve Sports Leaders in Years 10-11 on six residentials in June and July. Her tasks were as follows:

  • Meet with the Project Manager and School Sports Coordinator to agree the programme
  • Liaise with primary schools about their specific requirements
  • Liaise with sports leaders to confirm their availability
  • Match sports leaders to primary schools
  • Support a sports leader training session run by the Project Manager and School Sports Coordinator
  • Arrange meetings between sports leaders and schools
  • Present two ‘Top Tips’ documents ‘Working with sports leaders on camps’ and ‘Working as a sports leader on camps’ (documents that Hannah had been involved in writing whilst a student at Bulwell Academy)
  • Support sports leaders in the run-up to camps
  • Accompany sports leaders on camps
  • Coordinate activities on camps and support sports leaders whilst they were leading activities
  • Troubleshoot any issues arising with the sports leaders on camps
  • Provide feedback to the Project Manager and camp leaders about the success of the involvement of the sports leaders in the residential programme.

Below, Anna describes her experience of carrying out this role through an interview.

What was a typical camp like?

All the camps were different! It was interesting to see where the set up and programme was exactly the same different schools had a completely different approach. Some were very laid back and relaxing and some were really well organised and busy!

What was it like being a leader of leaders?

I really enjoyed working with them, because I had done what they were doing so recently I could really relate to how they were feeling. It was important to make sure they knew exactly what to do and what to expect. Sometimes they just needed reassurance that they could be assertive during the camp.

How did you get on with the staff?

Where it worked best they treated me like a member of staff; some of them were really brilliant and got me and the leaders really involved in the planning and kept us all well informed. Some it wasn’t so easy and communication before the camp was sometimes challenging!

Do you think the children benefit from having young leaders on camp?

Definitely! They love it! They see us as not staff but not kids and really enjoy the activities we do with them. They also love talking to us, because we live in their community we know what Bulwell’s all about and what it’s like for them. They really respect us and its good for them to see someone like me who is from their old school go on to university.

Would you do it again?

Maybe! Communication was a real challenge with some of the schools at times, but I have learnt a lot from that. One of the schools offered me a placement just with them next year and I would definitely take that up, as I learnt such a lot from them and really enjoyed working with them.

All of the adults attending the camps, the school staff and camp commanders, agreed that Anna had been an outstanding asset to this year’s programme. The sports leaders also reported feeling very supported and confident working with her, and the primary children loved her fun and tireless energy on the camps.