When the going gets tough, the tough start growing

Friday 28 June 2019 | By Samantha Hockney

At Teesside High School, we believe the opportunity to engage in adventurous activity in the outdoors is fundamental to developing our young people in every way imaginable.

Improving quality of life through better health, fitness and movement is the most basic of expectations from this type of activity, but it is proven to run so much deeper. Building confidence and trust in peers through activities which promote physical and mental challenge in a range of environments, these activities demand perseverance and determination, problem solving and decision making as well as independence and self reliance, all of which builds resilience through a range of day-long and residential experiences.

Outdoor Education starts with our youngest pupils. All Prep children from Nursery to Year 6 are given the chance to explore the world around them under the guidance of our qualified Forest School practitioner in our extensive grounds and woodland. They begin to take measured risks, develop their sense of responsibility and grow in confidence. As they progress through the Prep School, our children take on new challenges which allow them to believe that, with support and determination, they can achieve new highs. Our Year 3 and 4 residentials take in Gibside and Robinwood, where the children experience stream walking, abseiling and canoeing. In Year 5 and 6, the children learn how to create and handle fire safely at Eden Project, Cornwall.

We work with Mountain Activity Company (MAC) to provide a number of Outdoor and Adventure Camps throughout the Easter and summer holidays. These programmes challenge our children to find qualities and skills they never believed they might have, all the while exploring leadership, teamwork and motivation through worming, climbing, abseiling and orienteering.

The adventurous offer continues throughout the Senior School and Sixth Form. In Year 7, those new to the Senior School enjoy team building experiences across the year, including in our own Woodland School and through a two night residential near Hexham. Here, students are faced with land-based challenges such as zip wire, Jacob’s ladder and a leap of faith, all of which contributes to foundations of life-long friendships and camaraderie.

In Years 8-10, the residential experience takes on a new dimension as students tackle water-based challenges at Outward Bound, Ullswater. From Year 10 to 13, all students are further encouraged to be involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, which Teesside High School has led very successfully for over twenty years. Students complete volunteering, learn skills outside of the compulsory expedition and develop invaluable qualities as they embark upon their next step.

We recognise that academic achievement is significantly enhanced by the soft skills developed through Outdoor Education. We also firmly believe in growing global citizens who are aware of the need for sustainability in the use of our natural resources. Spending time in stunning landscapes both in this region and further afield enriches this awareness, broadening horizons and influencing our young people way beyond the years they spend at school.