We want our pupils to leave school with an enduring love of physical exercise and the outdoors. They learn how it contributes to their health and mental wellbeing and appreciate its value as a resource. Our Learning Through The Outdoors programme is tailored to each individual. It begins at the starting point of each learner, taking into account their level of self-esteem and confidence and their existing communication and organisation skills. Students who have more developed skills in a particular area are encouraged to help guide those who are less proficient. Supporting and teaching others gives students opportunities to consolidate their own learning. What is learned in a previous lesson is consciously used to set goals for the next lesson. These are often student directed.
“These attributes exemplify what personifies a ‘Myddeltonian’, what makes us different, and resilient, and how we encourage kindness, sharing, looking out for each other, and having the confidence to speak out when something isn’t right.”
Students in Years 5 to 10 have a whole LTTO day every other week, while Year 11 and above have one day per half term. Activities include mountain walking, navigation skills, bushcraft, climbing, abseiling, kayaking, canoeing, raft-building and sailing as well as various team challenges. The higher years concentrate on stress management, resilience, and future goal setting, all of which are important skills to learn in preparation for exams and life after school. We acknowledge there are elements of risk with LTTO, as with every aspect of life, but at Myddelton we are not averse to exposing our students to risk. However, we manage this effectively by preparing students with the skills to identify risk, respond appropriately and self-regulate, for example, through following instructions and using the appropriate kit.
Myddelton does not force students to take part in activities. We encourage them to participate in as many opportunities and experiences as they can to aid to their own personal development. ‘Challenge by Choice’ is taught in the very first lessons. We show students how to set goals that are appropriate for them. We do not want students to feel pushed out of their comfort zone and discouraged from further participation. We aim to stretch students physically, socially, mentally and emotionally at their own pace, through realistic challenge setting and activities they enjoy.
LTTO focuses on the three-related areas of skills, personal and social development and cross-curricular learning. It is designed to help students develop the leadership skills that collaboration and teamwork in the physical environment provide.
We develop students’ physical literacy skills through the years, which allied with their experience from early years, allows them to take on more adventurous activities. Over the coming years we plan to offer example younger pupils a three-night residential trip to Powys, and year 9 will take part in a Duke of Edinburgh (DoE) mountain walk in small groups without supervision, when we are confident in their physical and navigational skills, but also their emotional maturity and responsibility and trustworthiness. The older pupils will have the opportunity to take part in a three-week trip to Nepal, including an Everest base camp walk and spend some time volunteering in local communities.
Personal and social development
Skill development within LTTO is important but it’s what we learn through this process that is paramount. Key to LTTO is the transferability of skills; primarily leadership, organisation, timekeeping, working in small teams, and responsibility. These attributes exemplify what personifies a ‘Myddeltonian’, what makes us different, and resilient, and how we encourage kindness, sharing, looking out for each other, and having the confidence to speak out when something isn’t right. Built into the days are reflection and review time, after returning to school, pupils complete a section of their reflection journal. We also operate the practice that you leave things as you find them or better, all helping give them the tools to make themselves an outstanding individual who goes beyond what is expected. We have a range of awards that the students can participate in and gain external awards, such as the three levels of DoE, NICAS climbing, orienteering and conservation, and Sky Sports Leadership, but for us the sense of achievement is the main motivation. The confidence they gain from this process, and how this enables them to demonstrate their attainments at interviews and on applications, is also of great value.
On the LTTO days we ensure that many opportunities for cross-curricular confirmation and real-world reinforcement. We take the chance to look at and learn about rock types, land formation, earthquakes, erosion and geomorphology, all of which ties into and bolsters our geography teaching. But our cross-curricular collaboration goes beyond just geography, for example, looking at history and technology by visiting aquaducts and viaducts, examining building techniques and discussing the industrial revolution on LTTO days. We also regularly have our University Admissions Tutor join us for outdoor days, which offers valuable opportunities to discuss future careers, interests, and personal goals.