In May 2017, a group of students on the BSc (Hons) PE and Sport and BSc (Hons) Sport Development and Coaching programmes attended an exciting and challenging outdoor education residential course at Hagg Farm Outdoor Education Centre in the Peak District. Hagg Farm Centre provides primary and secondary schools in Nottingham with outdoor learning experiences which meet the requirements of the National Curriculum for Physical Education.
Outdoor education is an aspect of the curriculum which provides young people with unique learning experiences which are wholly different to other activities traditionally taught as part of Physical Education curriculum. Despite its educative value, it is often considered to be difficult to deliver and can be an underdeveloped area of Physical Education provision.
Programme leaders Donna Windard and Lindsay Brown wanted to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to develop their knowledge of this aspect of Physical Education, as well as improving their confidence and skills when working with children in outdoor education environments. Donna and Lindsay worked closely with Phil Baker and Jules Barratt at Hagg Farm to design a bespoke programme which aimed to develop students’ understanding of how to safely plan, deliver and assess pupil learning during a Key Stage 2 outdoor education residential course.
Throughout the course students engaged in activities that Hagg Farm use with Key Stage 2 children. For each activity students received copies of lesson plans that were mapped to the National Curriculum, learning about the setting of learning outcomes, progression and regression tasks, and how to assess learning within each task. The course began with a series of problem-solving activities which were designed to develop children’s cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills. Some of the activities were completed at night time in pitch darkness, which certainly added to the challenge and amusement!
Over the following two days students (and staff) explored the Peak District and experienced a range of physical and emotional challenges. These included caving in a long-abandoned lead mine, gorge walking, abseiling at Monsal Head viaduct, and rock climbing on Stanage Edge.
The group learned how these activities mapped with the National Curriculum. They also learned how to link these activities to other curriculum areas, including geography and science. It goes without saying that these were exciting and rewarding activities. Students who struggled with heights took on the challenge of abseiling, others who were not confident in water jumped into rock pools and some who were claustrophobic mastered caving. Everyone had a sense of personal and team achievement.
Evening activities included workshops with speakers from the National Trust who talked about management of the Peak District National Park, and from Nottinghamshire County Council who provided insight of how teachers should plan an outdoor education course with children focusing on risk assessment.
Staff-led activities included a dusk walk to the famous Derwent Dam, where students took turns to navigate and lead the group in a series of question based activities linked to geography and natural history. One particularly memorable event was the ‘fire-pit’, where stories were shared, songs were sung and marshmallows were toasted well into the wee small hours. A fantastic way for the group to bond and relax. For all, this was a unique and rewarding experience.
(click the photos to enlarge)