Senior Outdoor Education

We pride ourselves on our use of the stunning landscape and our prime location in England’s largest National Park, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our pupils have the opportunity to experience all that the outdoors can offer, and our qualified staff ensure that the Academic curriculum is matched by our Outdoor Education curriculum.

Windermere School firmly believes in the importance of learning outside of the classroom. To this end, Outdoor Education is seen as being an important part of a student’s life. However, our emphasis on the outdoors is more than just learning how to sail, or navigate on a mountain; it is also about enriching the curriculum by adding valuable skills learned outdoors that can be adapted to their academic understanding and knowledge base.

Two unique outdoor education programmes are offered as an integral part of curriculum time. Students in Years 7, 8 and 9 take part in the ‘Adventure Programme’, the natural progression from the Elleray ‘Adventure!’ programme. Each year group has an entire morning or afternoon devoted to outdoor education once every two weeks. This programme uses traditional outdoor activities to help students boost their self-confidence, teamwork, self-awareness, social skills and motivation, as well as their academic skills. This includes climbing, mountain biking, caving, sailing, kayaking, canoeing and bush craft.

Students in the Sixth Form can opt to undertake a BTEC in Outdoor Adventure. This course offers the opportunity to study outdoor education and discover how and why it is used as a learning medium and has a strong emphasis for both personal development in leadership and outdoor skill acquisition.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme is highly regarded by both employers and further education establishments alike and is a real adventure for students in Years 10 and above.

In order to achieve their award, students must take part in four sections; a skill, physical recreation, service and an expedition. Additionally, at gold level, participants must undertake a five-day residential visit of their choice.

The award scheme is challenging and requires commitment and determination. Participants can design their own award to suit their interests and levels of ability. All that is required is that they show progress and participate regularly. The expedition section provides wonderful opportunities to develop team work and leadership skills, as well the opportunity to explore the stunning landscape around us.

Those who take part in the scheme will reap huge benefits in terms of personal development and enjoyment and gives the students the skills, confidence and a view on life that everyone is looking for.

For more information regarding the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, please visit 


RYA British Youth Sailing Club

The School has been operating for a number of years as both a British Canoeing and Royal Yachting Associating (RYA) Training Centre, and the successful application in 2014 for RYA Champion Club status, now brings the Centre into alignment with the whole school ethos, ‘to be the best small school in Britain’. In 2018, we were delighted to become a RYA British Youth Sailing Recognised Club, one of only 15 clubs nationwide and the only school in the UK to hold this accreditation.


This new initiative will see the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) work alongside sailing clubs across the country, as it bids to promote grassroots sailing and support junior and youth sailors develop their racing skills.

In 2014, Windermere School became the first school in the UK to achieve RYA Champion Club status. RYA Champion Clubs are recognised as being ‘Centres of Excellence’ for junior race training and racing, many forming the very foundation of the British Sailing Teams. 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. A measure of this success is the number of young sailors who have gained places in the RYA Zone / Home Country Squads.

Four years on, the school has now met the exacting standard required to achieve BYS Recognised Club status. This status sets apart those sailing clubs, such as Windermere School, which demonstrate a commitment to the development of junior and youth racing and race training, delivered in a safe and fun environment. Since achieving its Champion Club status, several Windermere School pupils have won major championships in various classes, the most recent being Felix Stewart and Jake Harris, who won the prestigious Eric Twiname Junior Championship Trophy at Rutland Water last month.

Graeme Rowe is the RYA Principal and Chief Sailing Instructor at Windermere School and has been race coaching for almost twenty years: “British Youth Sailing status demonstrates our continued commitment to bringing through talented race sailors. Several students have won national titles over the last few years and I have every confidence that more will follow.


We love our watersports at Windermere School.  Hodge Howe is the school’s very own 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.

Hodge Howe is accredited by the RYA and British Canoeing as a recognised teaching centre for sailing and canoeing and kayaking. Our instructors are professionally qualified to issue these 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.

As well as watersports in the outdoor curriculum, there is a programme of competitive watersports training and sailing team regattas. Recently our Year 4 girls team competed in the Independent Association of Prep Schools Regatta in Weymouth.

The centre is also used for after school and weekend activities.  Each year the school hosts a Sailaway Day where students and their families are invited to participate in their favourite watersport.  The centre is well equipped with toppers, lasers, wayfarers, canoes and kayaks as well as wetsuits and spray-tops for pupils to use. There is capacity for operating four groups at any particular time. Two groups work from the boathouse area and two further groups are accommodated from the beach. Staff operate with a maximum of six pupils per group for teaching sailing and a maximum of eight for teaching kayaks or expert level groups.

World School
Round Square
Sunday Times IB School of the Year
The Society of Heads
Adventure Activities Licensing Authority
British Canoeing Approved Centre
RYA Champion Club