At Queen’s College, Outdoor Education is an umbrella term to describe a wide range of learning in the outdoors. This includes adventure education, personal and social development and environmental awareness. We intend to embrace all of these key areas in producing a programme that fosters leadership, teamwork and communication skills as well as enhancing pupil’s health and well being. We aim to instill an appreciation of the environment around us and enable pupils to challenge themselves and learn to manage risk in order to help develop resilience and initiative.
There is a wide range of outdoor activities on offer led by a number of qualified and highly experienced members of staff. There is a packed programme on offer during the week and trips go further afield every weekend.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme helps to complement our Outdoor Education provision. Queen’s College is a centre of excellence for the Scheme (the world’s leading youth achievement award). This is an enjoyable, challenging and rewarding programme of personal development for young people which is of the highest quality and widest reach.
Students wishing to pursue further interests in Outdoor Education, also have the chance to study for a BTEC in Sport and Outdoor Activities (link) as one of their Year 12-13 study options.
The following list is not exhaustive but gives an idea of the breadth of opportunities available:
- Clay Pigeon Shooting
- Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)
- Exmoor Challenge
- Expedition Group
- Mountain Biking
- Paddlesport (Canoeing, Canoe Polo & Kayaking)
- Ten Tors
- Year 8 and 9 Adventure Challenges
- Overseas Expeditions
Paddlesport (Canoeing, Canoe Polo & Kayaking)
This caters for everybody from the novice to the experienced Grade 4 paddler. There are regular sessions in the school pool to improve basic skills and eskimo rolling technique for all year groups. Queen’s also specialises in Canoe Polo and has a team which competes in the South West Canoe Polo league. Weekend river trips are run regularly to a wide range of rivers on Dartmoor, Exmoor and North Wales. During the summer months there will also be regular surf kayaking trips to the North Devon and Cornwall coasts.
Climbing takes place for all year groups throughout the year at a number of local climbing walls, and then when the rock warms up in the summer, pupils are regularly taken to some of the limestone crags of the Mendips, South Wales and South Devon or the granite Tors of Dartmoor. There are also trips each summer to the sea cliffs of Cornwall, the sunny beachside crags of Portland and the Gower Peninsula. Pupils will have the opportunity to gain nationally recognised NICAS and NIBAS awards. Although climbing is generally recreational, students who want to take things further can compete in a number of climbing competitions during the year.
Pupils are lucky enough to be only 15 minutes away from the Quantocks where there is some of the best natural cross country riding in England. Queen’s has a number of very active mountain bike clubs for different year groups and a full fleet of trail ready bikes. During all three terms pupils of all abilities are able to experience a range of riding venues from the free flowing single track and technical downhill of the Quantocks to the purpose-built trails of Haldon Forest, Ashton Court and the Forest of Dean. During the darker months, night riding is offered to the more experienced students.
Archery and Clay Pigeon Shooting
Archery has become a very popular activity at Queen’s and is available on a weekly basis for all year groups in the Senior School. Clay pigeon shooting has also been introduced this year for some of the older students.
We enter three teams into the Ten Tors challenge each year. This is a unique event on Dartmoor that sees teams from years 9, 10 and 12 walking between 35 – 55 mile routes over a weekend. It is the largest youth participation event in the country with approximately 3000 students taking part. The students walk without the assistance of staff so training takes place throughout the year in preparation for the event in May. Many pupils have described the event as one of the most memorable experiences of their time at Queen’s. It’s tough but a fantastic experience.
This is a single day event that runs along the same lines as the Ten Tors but it is a single day event and we enter teams from Year 7. After training during the Spring and summer terms the students navigate their way around a 16 mile course on Exmoor.
Year 7 sail at Wimbleball Reservoir during their integration day and sailing activities are also arranged on Sundays during the Summer and Autumn Terms. For the enthusiast there are opportunities during the Summer term to complete nationally recognised RYA sailing proficiency awards.
This takes place occasionally and allows pupils to experience a totally different world underground. The limestone caves of the Mendips are 45 minutes away and South Wales also provides many extensive cave systems to explore.
Diving – PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water diving courses are run in the school pool. There are also trips out to local reservoirs (Vobster on the Mendips) and the South Devon coast as well as occasional overseas expeditions to Gozo and Tenerife during the holidays.
There are opportunities for groups of pupils to ride at a local trekking and riding centre. Many local pupils have their own horses and achieve significant success not only regionally but nationally in show jumping, dressage and one day events.
Every year the Queen’s Expedition Group takes on a Challenge during the Autumn and Spring half-terms. These challenges involve journeying either on foot, in canoes or on bikes and have recently included the Welsh 3000s in Snowdonia and the Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge (Ilfracombe to Plymouth – 102 miles) in two days. Other Expeditions have included the River Dart Source to Sea – walking and open boating and cycling the Taff Trail from Brecon to Cardiff Bay.
Year 8 and 9 Adventure Challenges
Every summer term both Year 8 and Year 9 pupils go on a residential (camping) Adventure Challenge, Year 8 to the Wye Valley and Year 9 to the Brecon Beacons. The Year 8 activities include walking, cycling and open boating while the Year 9 pupils try gorge walking, canoeing, climbing, caving and a mountain walk around the stunning Pen y Fan ridge. These two adventures provide a challenging but safe environment in which pupils can develop their self-confidence, initiative, self reliance and teamwork skills away from the confines of the school site.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE)
Queen’s College is a centre of excellence for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. The three levels of awards, Bronze (6 months), Silver (12 months) and Gold (18 months) are divided into four sections: volunteering, expedition, skills and physical recreation.
All pupils in Year 10 are encouraged to do Bronze. Half the year group continues with Silver in Year 11 whilst in the Sixth Form there are around 40 pupils going for Gold. A considerable number of Queen’s College students have achieved their Gold Award, an outstanding achievement, and students who have reached this level are highly regarded by universities when applying.
Walking, open canoeing, mountain biking and memorable camping expeditions take place over some stunning regions of the United Kingdom – Dartmoor, The Lake District, Exmoor, The New Forest, River Wye, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The School also has a community service section where pupils are involved in community projects such as mill stream restoration, helping on the sensory garden, organising Prep School activities and volunteering for the School’s sustainability programme.
The Outdoor Education department also runs a number of overseas kayaking and climbing expeditions each year. This includes:
Summer kayaking expeditions that go to a range of locations including the Arctic, Norway, Austrian Alps and the French Alps.
Climbers travel to Spain or Majorca in the October half term in search of unpolished bolted limestone and a tan!