Outdoor Education

Here at the Clarendon Academy, we care about growing the whole child. There are many pupils who thrive outside of the classroom and many who need to reconnect with nature, get outside and away from a screen.

Outdoor education 2

Because of this, we have developed, over many years, an extensive and unique outdoor education programme that starts in year 7 and runs through to 6th form. Throughout your child’s time at Clarendon, they will be encouraged to try something new, to reach beyond their comfort zone and achieve things they never thought possible. For some this may simply be having a cup of hot chocolate in the forest school sat next to a fire they lit themselves. For others, it may mean a 3 day trek across the Marlborough downs. At whatever point your child starts with us they will leave having not only grown academically but also braver, more confident and more socially aware.

Forest School

In year 7 and 8 each pupil will have a full day off timetable in our forest school. Forest schools are growing in popularity amongst primary schools but we are leaders in our area for realising the benefits it brings to secondary pupils also. For many years forest school has been recognised as helping mindfulness, encouraging students to manage and experience risk, reduce stress and therefore improve mental health and help them to feel empathy towards other as well as nature.

While at forest school pupils may experience a range of activities such as:

  • Den building
  • Tree climbing
  • Chopping wood with an axe
  • Cooking on an open fire
  • Whittling
  • Nature study
  • Wild Art
  • Wild hide and seek

Although there is some structure to the day; it is very much led by the pupils and what they would like to do in the forest school that day. No matter what the activity; we know they have had a good day if they leave caked in mud, smelling of wood smoke and with big grins on their faces.

Year 7 Camp

Year 7 camp has been running for so many years we are not really sure when it first started – It is steeped in Clarendon’s heritage. Every year we take the entirety of year 7 to a local scout camp for 2 nights under canvas. We like to call this ‘back to basics’ camping. There are some toilets – but not much else!

This is not an extreme camp. We are not expecting anyone to climb anything high or throw themselves into a river. The aim of this camp is to reconnect with nature, talk to their friends, make new friends and try something new.
Activities they might try at camp are:

  • Camp rounders
  • Den building
  • Cray fish fishing
  • Man hunt
  • Wide games
  • Marshmallow toasting
  • Walk (via an ice cream shop)
  • Crazy Olympics
  • Midnight feasts

This is a fun and relaxed camp that is enjoyed enormously each year. Memories of sitting in your tent and eating a packet of custard creams, chatting with your mates until past midnight will stay with them for years. Tales of being brave enough to walk to the toilets in the dark and being spooked by a badger will stay with you till adulthood.

This camp is enjoyed so much that some of our 6th form students often volunteer as ‘camp cubbies’ for the week. Students often build a good relationship with their camp cubbie and its brilliant to see that the mentoring relationship continues on at school.

Other Outdoor and Adventurous Activities

As well as the regular and termly activities we run at school we also offer many optional trips and adventures. In the last few years we have run surfing weekends in Cornwall, an indoor climbing course in Bristol as well as mountain biking in Wales. We also took students to a week-long residential at Mill on the Brue activity centre. We are often on the lookout for funding to help fully or partially finance the activities to make them accessible for all our students. We always listen to what out pupils want to do and try to be guided by them. If they tell us they want to go bog snorkelling or axe throwing – we will try to make it happen.