Expeditionary Education

Monday 10 July 2023

In June, Christ’s Hospital launched an Expeditionary Education programme, packed with a variety of challenging and adventurous activities including canoeing, sailing, raft building, mountain biking, mountaineering, bushcraft, outdoor cooking, camping, and rock climbing. Every activity is an opportunity to develop key skills including teamwork and leadership, and a great way to boost self-confidence and resilience.

The programme is designed to offer a progressive learning structure centred around the new Blues’ Expedition and Exploration Society (B.E.E.S.). UF (Year 10) and above will attend training sessions on Tuesday afternoons during term time and then be offered the opportunity to join a related expedition during the holidays at the end of each term, where students will immerse themselves in the full expeditionary education experience. They will work and live together in sometimes physically and mentally challenging environments, developing problem-solving and communication skills, independence and their own potential. Alongside the B.E.E.S., students will experience expeditionary education through the LE (Year 9) Expeditionary Education Curriculum programme, a summer Expedition Week for all UF (Year 10), as well as activities within the broader curriculum. Of course, adventure training and outdoor challenge are also essential elements for those students who participate in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and Combined Cadet Force.

In an increasingly competitive global market, it is critical to equip students for future success. With more businesses taking action to harness talented, diverse teams for success, employers’ focus is shifting to skills over traditional academic qualifications. CH is responding with a forward-thinking approach to the curriculum. Through Expeditionary Education, we aim to further increase social mobility and empower students with the unshakable belief that they can tackle any challenge they face. Our programme of outdoor education builds confidence and develops the attitudes, skills, and behaviours our students need to make an impact as they pursue careers and move forward through life. For many students, going on expeditions is beyond their means. At the very heart of our programme, we aim to widen access to challenge and adventure for every student. We believe social and financial constraints should not prevent any child from these life-changing experiences that will propel them forward to reach their potential.

“I am passionate that learning and personal development are not confined to the classroom” says Simon Reid, Head Teacher. “By placing expeditionary education as a fourth pillar alongside our outstanding teaching, pastoral care and broader curriculum, we can offer our students every opportunity to thrive”.

Our recently restored Doctor’s Lake provides the perfect environment for an introduction to canoeing; for students of all ages to get to grips with the use of the paddle and to learn to manoeuvre their canoe solo and in pairs. We also plan to introduce other activities including raft building and paddle boarding in due course. For those who want to spend more time on the water, sailing experiences at local centres and on residential trips will also give students opportunities to learn or improve this exciting skill and develop effective teamwork.

Taking students away from modern comforts and showing them how to live happily in the natural environment is an important part of expeditionary education. During our land programmes, they will learn bushcraft and navigational skills, build camps and sleep under the stars, while also learning about the thriving woodland ecosystem surrounding the school. Students can also experience the exhilaration of mountain biking and take their bike handling to the next level with trail options for all abilities utilising the school site, surrounding woodland and countryside, while also learning essential bike maintenance and repair skills. We will also provide opportunities to go rock climbing at indoor walls and outdoor crags, where students can push their limits and learn to take responsibility for themselves and each other.

Residential trips are the ultimate way to nurture a sense of adventure providing an immersive experience in which to develop specialised skills or try multiple activities. Our plans for expeditions in the UK and eventually overseas will give students the chance to experience travel and cultural development, as well as challenge and adventure in more remote locations, from sailing on the Norfolk Broads, to canoeing expeditions in Sweden.