We had a spookily quiet first half of the week without our lively Year 6 pupils on site. The lucky cohort spent three nights away with four of our senior teaching staff, staying at Longridge Activity Centre, near Marlow. As this, and all the trips offered at Gateway School demonstrate, while it is possible to learn basic concepts in class, there is no substitute for real experience in the wider world. School trips provide a great opportunity for pupils to gain such experience and face a range of challenges that can contribute significantly to their personal development. Whether the trip is to a museum, a castle, a restaurant, a planetarium or a farm, with each experience, students are able to create a connection between what is happening at school and in the ‘real-world’. Trips and visits make a major contribution to the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills. Studies of the natural and man-made world, the present and past, science and art, language and music can all be enhanced outside the classroom. Adventure activity and sports skills, such as those on the Year 6 residential trip to Longridge, can form the foundation of life-long interests. Residential trips are a fantastic way for children to forge bonds with their peers and adults alike - the children may feel that they know their classmates and teachers well from day-to-day contact in school, but the experience of living with them in a residential community can add a completely new dimension. It raises the whole area of interpersonal skills, including leadership, team work, trust and respect and boosts self esteem and self confidence. A lot of personal growth takes place during the time away. For some children, this is the first time they have been away from home, and it is an honour that the first trip that they take is with school. They rise to challenges and feel more confident about trying food or activities that would usually be out of their comfort zone. They have to take care of their possessions and ensure that they are ready for activities by a given time (albeit with a watchful eye over them!) It also gives them an opportunity to shine in different ways from those in school. Friendships are strengthened and also built: one of the great points about these experiences is seeing children appreciate each other in a new way - recognising that the reflective child is actually a fantastic problem solver; or gaining a new respect for one of their classmates as they see them grow and excel at new activities.
As the Educational Visits Coordinator, I am so delighted that our children have either been able to visit venues linked to the topics they have been studying this term, or have taken part in exciting activities on the school site, which have enhanced their learning experiences. Over the last few weeks, Preschool have been litter-picking in the local vicinity, much to the delight of the local community, Year 1 were able to sample pizza in a local pizzeria, and visited an organic farm as part of their focus on food; Year 2 enjoyed a Punch and Judy show, and pond dipping at Mop End, although the children (and the staff) got very wet and soggy in the process! Year 3 put their extensive knowledge of castles to the test when they visited Windsor Castle last Thursday, and Year 4 used quadrants to analyse plants and built Viking longboats when they visited the farm. Year 5 enjoyed an action packed three-days based on the Victorians, which included lace-making, building a section of the structure of Crystal Palace and visiting Chiltern Open Air Museum, where they dressed up as Victorian children, and experienced straw-plaiting and a Victorian school room. In addition, Year 5 enjoyed a fabulous team-building day at Ballinger and Year 6 had enormous fun learning plate spinning and how to unicycle during their Circus Skills Day!
Learning outside the classroom is an essential part of our curriculum, and, as a school, we believe that all of our children should be inspired and love learning, and that they should be given the opportunity to develop knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes through a broad experience both at school and in the wider community.
I do hope the warmer weather continues, and wish you a good weekend.