Castle Manor Academy takes Education Outdoors

Castle Manor Academy takes Education Outdoors

By Hati Whiteley

Castle Manor students take on outdoor learning, from gardens to treetops. Here, they find the courage to explore while gaining knowledge beyond textbooks.

Not everything can be learned in the classroom.

Don’t get us wrong, we learned tonnes of stuff in school that we still use today, but when we think back to our school years (if we can remember that far!) it’s not the two-hour algebra classes that we recall with fondness, but the lessons we learned outside the classroom. The life skills classes where you cooked ‘original’ concoctions on a budget; the conservation classes where you all crowded around the school pond in search of frogs; and those hiking trips where your feet were aching and your legs burning but all your mates were there so you pushed through anyway...

Back in 2016 Castle Manor Academy approached the Alpkit Foundation for support with a project to take education beyond the classroom in their school. We were stoked to be able to lend our support, and just under a year down the line we’ve been catching up with Mrs Baldwin, the Learning Outside the Classroom Coordinator at Castle Manor Academy, to see how they’ve been getting on.

Castle Manor is an academy in Haverhill, Suffolk, where just under half of the students come from low-income families. The school places a lot of value in outdoor learning, and have been keen to offer students ASDAN courses, which help young people to develop valuable skills for life and for work, as Mrs Baldwin explains:

'I want to offer the students something tangible, something character and life-skill building. We want to give them experiences they wouldn't normally have and the freedom to be part of the community with no cost implications.'

Residentials are a key element of ASDAN courses, and students must participate in a residential to complete the course. Mrs Baldwin had already secured funding for tents and sleeping bags, and used the Alpkit Foundation's funding to pay for the campsite at Thorpe Woodlands in Thetford so that the students could complete the residential section of their course.

The students had an excellent time, trying their hands at archery, discovering pedal-power on bikes, and learning how to paddle like pros in a canoeing activity on a residential that was run at little cost to the students and their families, making it accessible to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. No sooner had they returned, they were raring to get back to the outdoors again, and we're fairly sure that this will be the first of many outdoor experiences for the students of Castle Manor Academy.

Follow Castle Manor Academy on Twitter, or visit their website, to see what else they've been getting up to!

The Alpkit Foundation supports projects that enable people to overcome the obstacles preventing them from Going Nice Places and Doing Good Things.

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