Mrs Julie King, the new Head of Elleray Campus, the Preparatory division of Windermere School, says she will…
At Windermere School, our adventure programme incorporates not only water-based sports but outdoor adventure on the beautiful Lakeland fells that surround our school.
Outdoor adventure includes camping, fell and mountain walking, survival skills, navigation skills and orienteering. Indoors and outdoors at Windermere School, we introduce the children to the world of climbing and abseiling by working towards the National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme Level 1 (Foundation Climber) Award forming part of our Adventure Log Book scheme.
Each child completes their own Adventure Log Book, which is aimed at encouraging and developing children’s skills. Outdoor Education starts from Year 3 and continues throughout Elleray life, up to Year 6.
Students take part in half a day of outdoor education every other week. The students work towards the Elleray Adventure Award, which consists of ten elements. Students must achieve certain standards in each element to receive a Bronze, Silver and, ultimately, Gold Compass Badge. They record all their achievements in their own Windermere School Adventure Log Book.
This can be as part of their Adventure lessons, extra-curricular time at School or with their family.
During the summer months, we follow the RYA Youth Sailing schemes and British Canoeing Paddlepower awards. By the time the children leave Elleray Campus, at eleven years old to move up to Senior School, most are working towards their RYA Stage 3 and Paddlepower Discovery (British Canoeing 2 Star).
Hodge Howe is the school’s private watersports centre on the shores of Lake Windermere, only minutes from the two campuses.
Every student in every year group is taught how to canoe, kayak and sail by our qualified instructors. We take advantage of our beautiful setting by integrating watersports programmes into the outdoor education curriculum. The centre is well equipped with a wide range of boats, kayaks and windsurf boards, as well as wetsuits and spray-tops for pupils to use. The Watersports Centre is accredited by the Royal Yachting Association and British Canoeing as a recognised training centre centre for sailing, canoeing and kayaking.
In 2014, Hodge Howe Watersports Centre become a RYA Champion Club, recognising it as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for junior race training and racing. This was followed by another accreditation in 2018, when Hodge Howe met the exacting standard required to achieve British Youth Sailing Recognised Club status.
To gain this status, the school had to show that it not only introduces young people into racing, but also that it develops their enthusiasm and talent. Our instructors are professionally qualified to issue highly regarded certificates, and all students can progress through the levels in each watersport, ultimately working towards their own instructor’s qualification if they choose to do so.
This is a unique opportunity that we have built into the curriculum, taking advantage of our waterfront location. Our aim is to enlighten and present an opportunity for each student to excel at their own pace and comfort zone in familiar waters.
The programme of competitive sailing, training and team regattas which is held at Hodge Howe Watersports Centre has led to a number of students achieving staggering success in sailing. In 2017, two students from Windermere School won a Bronze medal in the World Championships, along with a second place position at the National Championships.
During the winter months, our students compete in Orienteering events, complete their Bikeability Level 2 Award, and learn Mountain Leader and survival skills on the Lakeland Fells.
Our Forest School site within our grounds provides a wealth of opportunities for exploration and personal development. There are small trees and bushes to climb, magical places to hide, spaces for den building, secret passageways through shrubbery and a log circle for stories, songs, discoveries and even toasted marshmallows. The sessions are delivered by our residential Level 3 qualified instructor.
Each Forest School is unique and we have designed ours to utilise the wonderful wooded grounds of nearly 20 acres. The sessions take place either at the Forest School site or elsewhere in the grounds, depending on the focus of the session.
Pupils from Pre-School to Year 2 take part in weekly Forest School sessions throughout the school year. These sessions focus on specialised woodland activities with our youngest children and it is here that we start to nurture the life skills that we believe are so important in children’s education – self-awareness, independence, motivation, decision making, confidence and social empathy.
We embrace the Forest School philosophy, which is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences. During Forest School sessions, students learn about topics such as: how to identify local species of plants and wildlife (including pond life), how to care for and conserve the environment and how to use natural materials to create natural art and sculptures.
Students learn how to build a den, bushcraft skills and tool use (peelers, saws, flint and steel) and fire lighting (all pupils in Year 2 will use a flint and steel to start their own small fire). Other topics include basic survival skills, map reading, making boats, dam building and storytelling and role play.
The Forest School site offers a wealth of opportunities for exploration and personal development. Natural resources are available for mark-making, mud and water play and craft and construction activities. The natural growth of the site offers secluded areas to play quietly as well as large open spaces for collaborative play and learning.
The students are encouraged to follow their own personal journey of development by setting a series of self-motivated and achievable goals. This helps to foster a sense of responsibility and pride in their achievements.
These classes are key for developing leadership, collaboration and cooperation as they focus on a series of linked challenges.
The first time my daughter and I visited the school she said to me “that is a happy school no question.” The scholastic achievements of the school are evident and an easy measure for a school to demonstrate. What is hard to quantify is the holistic development of a pupil at which, in my experience, Windermere School excels.
Windermere School is such a unique community to be a part of. Not only is it based in a truly beautiful and inspiring national park, but the environment created by staff and students alike makes for an incredibly supportive, proactive, exciting and international place of learning in which everyone can thrive and be the best they can be.