There is a unique outdoor education programme which is offered as an integral part of curriculum time. Students in Year 3 and all the way up to Year 9 take part in the brand new adventure programme, by completing the Windermere School Adventure Log Book. This is a compulsory component of the curriculum for these year groups, which aims to help students develop a growth mindset by boosting their self-confidence, teamwork, self-awareness, social skills and motivation. Students in Year 10 and Year 11 have the option to continue in the programme or specialise in a particular skill. Each year group has an entire morning, or afternoon, devoted to outdoor education once every two weeks, with activities which include climbing, mountain biking, caving, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and bush craft. Students in the Year 12 and Year 13 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.
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 competetive 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.
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.
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.