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Windermere School awarded for spirit of adventure
A LAKE District school has scooped a national first for its commitment to teaching through adventure.
Windermere Preparatory School has achieved Adventure Learning School (ALS) status, the first independent school in the UK to do so.
ALS is a Carlisle-based charity established by Professor David Hopkins, a former chief advisor to the Government on school standards.
It promotes learning through adventure in and outside the classroom and accredits schools which offer pupils a challenging learning environment to develop key skills and qualities.
Headmaster Ben Freeman said: “This is where academic meets adventure - it’s about adventurous teaching in all subjects and adventurous learning.
“We want to use our pupils’ natural sense of adventure to encourage them to explore and investigate.
“By forging links across our curriculum so that the various subjects use each other, we are able to further the learning experience for our pupils.”
Activities on offer include navigation, first aid, indoor climbing, fell walking, sailing, kayaking and canoeing.
The school’s 130 children are rewarded with bronze, silver and gold badges when they have completed different tasks.
But it is not just physical activities that make up the programme - a leadership and teamwork theme runs throughout all classes.
Mr Freeman said the skills learnt would stay with youngsters for ‘a long time’.
He continued: “It’s the experience that’s the most powerful thing. It pulls together all the knowledge that they’re learning.
“They get to test it out and do collaborative team work, problem solving and test their resilience.”
Pupils enjoy scheduled ‘adventure’ lessons but learn creatively in other subjects which are integegrated with adventure.
“The way we have designed the curriculum is that other subjects will link with adventure all the time,” said Mr Freeman.
“Children will study rocks and soil in science and go to Honister Slate Mine, then the next time to Scout Scar to look at fossils.
“We are constantly using the adventure programme with the academic programme and one accelerates the other.”
Windermere School, the only independent school in the Lake District, boasts 100 acres of woodland spread over two campuses and its own lakeside watersports centre, an ideal adventure learning environment.
The school plans to hold more learning expeditions in the future.
Mr Freeman said the 20-strong staff were ‘delighted’ to achieve the kitemark, adding: “There’s been a lot of hard work involved.
“It’s a great experience and it will continue. There are things we want to do even better next year.”