Broadening Horizons & Opening Doors

At The Outdoors School, we believe that experiential learning experiences are crucial in order to give our learners opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge from school in real-life scenarios and contexts, in order to create lifelong embedded skills and build a rich understanding of society, culture, and ethics. Part of the way we achieve this is with regular off-site visits through our Enrichment programme to a range of places from museums and swimming pools to national trust properties and climbing. However, this is not the only way and today, we couldn’t resist telling you about a very special trip that was organised by our Phase 3 team, that took place last week!

A group of our phase 3 (Key Stage 4) learners, accompanied by an enthusiastic band of staff, went on a 3 day residential trip to Portsmouth. We’re going to hand over to our Phase 3 Lead, Beverley Garland, now for an account of this very successful adventure!

Day One

We set off early, had MacDonald’s en route and arrived at the Dockyard in Portsmouth in time for our packed lunch. Then it was onto The Mary Rose experience, which was very impressive. We then checked into our rooms and had a walk to a local park. We headed back to change for tea and headed off on foot with learners leading us to Frankie and Benny’s for our meal and a special birthday treat for JS. It was then back to bed (after a few phone photos of staff jumping and learners photo bombing). A tiring but exciting day. All learners were brilliant, embracing the pastoral-life skills experience. All were friendly, kind, polite and curious. (Staff had great day too!)

Day Two

All learners slept well and enjoyed breakfast. We walked to the Dockyard to meet Commander Lumsden who told us about being a Royal Navy medic, how to start a career in the Navy and his own career journey. He was very inspirational. We then explored HMS Victory and a large museum. It was then time for lunch and an amble back to our hotel to freshen up before a trip to the park. Then we had an hour to relax before dinner at The Hub Box, overlooking the harbour. A residential is such a good opportunity for learners to relax together and to be with staff more informally. All the learners have been amazing, most on their first stay away from parents.

Day Three

This morning we went up Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth’s 170m observation tower which looks over the solent to The Isle of Wight. It was an amazing view! We then had lunch and set off on our homeward journey. What a trip! The learners were impeccably behaved and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The adults were a fantastic team ensuring the learners had fun and were safe. Memories were made!! (and 18 miles were walked!)

What was most impressive for the staff team is just how far the learners have come regarding their social and emotional development. The TOS ethos and phased curriculum supports youngsters, who have struggled in other educational settings, to develop their confidence, their ability to self regulate, and their social skills, so that they are able in Phase 3 to readily interact with their peers and trusted adults, coping in novel situations away from home. They are able to vocalise their needs in appropriate ways, absorb information, ask questions and have fun. We are literally widening their horizons and opening doors that would otherwise have been closed to them.

Author: Beverley Garland, Phase 3 Lead

Date: Monday 10th July 2023

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