It turns out the answer is me, who knew? I have been privileged to be the Headteacher of The Outdoors School since March and what a ride it’s been for the learners, their families, the staff and myself: not to mention the rest of the company who have gone above and beyond to help and support us.
When I was asked to write a bit about the first year of the school I didn’t know where to start or how to articulate my first experience as a Head. So begin at the beginning I guess.
When we started in September I swear we heard every possible reaction from “are you mad?’ to “wow, what a wonderful project to be involved in”. I think the feelings of all concerned ran the same gamut of emotions. I know my family found my new work uniform, an impression of Stig of the Dump, my new-found fascination with tent pegs and my carrying a whittling knife to work hilarious as did my ex colleagues.
But…the minute those anxious, wonderful young people arrived with their quietness or their brash bravado everything fell into place. We all felt that this is where we belonged and this is what we should have been doing all along.
We enjoyed a beautiful Autumn and endured a long, wet winter but those little’uns just kept turning up with their challenges and their questions and their simple enjoyment of all things wet and muddy. They fought with us, they hugged us, they helped us dig drainage ditches and learned some amazing lessons while they were teaching us equally amazing lessons. Such a shame that they missed the beauty of the woods in the summer.
We do represent a challenge to people looking on from the outside because we refuse to fit into their boxes. Mainstream education has failed these young people and if you keep putting the same thing in you get the same thing out, we’re not putting the same thing in and we are certainly seeing some very different and positive outcomes. We have been scrutinised by everyone and nobody can fault the progress these young people are making. We have enjoyed the support of parents and guardians who are telling us that they see a huge change in their young people. Can’t really ask for anything more than that.
So, as we prepare to launch into another new and exciting year, with our fuel tanks full of the same heady mix of anticipation and apprehension, I want to take the opportunity to thank all those people who have ridden the rollercoaster with me, turned up, laughed, cried and paddled through the mud together and to those who gave us this crazy, amazing opportunity.
Author: Robyn Vincent, Headteacher of The Outdoors School
Date: Friday 24th July 2020