Outdoor Education is all about getting out there, getting stuck in, giving it a go and having fun. It does not matter how old you are, or what your abilities might be, Outdoor Education offers something for everyone, and for some people it is everything. It will take you to places you did not dream existed and you will experience things you did not know were possible.
Outdoor Education can be an exceedingly personal thing, but is also very sociable and individuals learn about their own boundaries, comfort zones and their place in the world. Plymouth enjoys a great location in the South West, the moors and the sea offer unrivalled days out. We enjoy many great climbing and biking locations, and boast some of the best rivers for kayaking on. The caving is reasonable, but we make the most of what the UK has to offer and run trips to many other areas with breath-taking mountains or premier caves.
This is our popular club for Years 7-10 on a Monday after school where pupils who are interested in Outdoor Activities head out and get involved. Everyone is welcome and we promote a wide range of activities; indoor and outdoor climbing, canoeing, kayaking, caving, mountain biking, night walks, bushcraft to name a few. Pupils sign up for a term at a time and often we have them return throughout their time at Plymouth College. This means pupils can not only discover a range of activities, but also start to develop their skills in them.
This trip is open years 7-10, but places are predominately filled by our Discoverers Club. We head to the glorious Yorkshire Dales (where it is always sunny!) for a multi activity week of climbing and mountain biking, as well as caving in the country’s premier caving location and attempting the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. Each year we have a mix of ages sign up, but they all get involved in cooking a meal or clearing it away and do their share of the chores around the bunkhouse, as well as organising the evening’s entertainment.
Outdoor Activities are available to pupils in Years 11-13 as part of Wednesday afternoon games. On the first session of the term, pupils split into teams and given a list of activities, travel times and a budget. They then have to work out what they are going to do for the rest of the term, and bring it in under budget. Some pupils are new to the activities and often opt for a range of activities, while others having been doing them for a while and we are able to offer them trips that are more advanced. Currently pupil interest means we are doing a lot of white water kayaking and lead climbing.
Aimed at the Lower sixth pupils, we attempt to summit, and return from, the highest peak in Scotland, England and Wales in 24 hours. Devon is not the place of choice to start this from, but we drive to Scotland, start up Ben Nevis, then head to England and Scarfell Pike, and finish on Snowdon in Wales. Just completing them all in succession is a tall order, but the 24-hour time frame is a big ask. It is achievable, but we are at the mercy of the traffic, that and everyone has to walk at a reasonable pace as well!
This is the biggest youth challenge event in the UK, and quite unique. Teams of six pupils form part of the 2,400 young people from across the South West on the start line near Okehampton. The Army runs this event, so cannon fire to signal the start and the teams navigate themselves around Dartmoor, heading to checkpoints and looking after themselves until they return on Sunday having camped out, cooked for themselves and tended to sore feet. A group of 14 year olds looking after themselves, remote on Dartmoor, for two days need a lot of practice and we train over several weekends in the Autumn and Spring terms.
This is certainly not a race; the challenge is more than sufficient to entice individuals.
There are different distances, depending on a pupil’s age:
|14-15 years old||15-17 years old(15yr must have done 35mile previously)||17-19 years old (17yr must have done 35/45mile previously)|
Founded in 1965 by Prince Phillip the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has expanded across much of the globe. This fantastic award for 14-25 year olds merits individual and team achievement. Employers and universities like the differential this award gives individuals when applying for places or interviews, there is always a story to be recalled!
There are three levels;
For an hour a week, pupils have to volunteer their time, complete a skill and pursue a physical activity. They also undertake a training and assessed expedition. The length of time they do this for increases as they progress through the awards. For Gold, pupils also have to complete a residential experience for five days, four nights.
We start the awards in Year 10 with Bronze, then Silver in Year 11 and Gold in the Lower Sixth. This forms one of the options for the Friday enrichment afternoons and we spend time preparing for the expedition as well as a number of other outdoor activities, such as climbing, Coasteering or mountain biking.
We like to give pupils ownership of their expedition and give a degree of freedom when planning. In the past, we have had canoe, walking and biking expeditions, both in the UK and overseas.
Every couple of years we like to put on a bigger expedition to explore parts of the globe we do not usually get to visit. In recent years, we have been to Tanzania and Malawi.
Why do we go? Well, it is different for everyone and there are as many reasons as there are pupils, but by including a trek, community engagement and voluntary work, a safari and some well-earned R&R there is something for everyone. Hearing the pupils who have been talk about their experiences months afterwards reveals the depths which trips like this impact.
With one of the best natural harbours in Europe in close proximity, Plymouth College is ideally situated for learning how to sail and to race small sailing dinghies.
Sailing takes place in the waters of Plymouth Sound from our base at Royal Western Yacht Club on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays after school. Plymouth College Sailing Team training and regattas against other schools take place on Wednesday afternoons from the same venue. During the winter, land training, theory and team race tactics’ lessons take place at school on Wednesday afternoons and Tuesdays after school.
Plymouth College Combined Cadet Force (CCF) - Responsibility, Self-Reliance, Resourcefulness, Endurance and Perseverance. Pupils from Year 10 onwards can be part of the schools dynamic CCF consisting of Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force Sections.
In one of the oldest CCF in the country with nearly 150 years of history. The CCF still celebrates Trafalgar Dinner night with a formal dinner including guests from the local military establishments. Part funded by the MOD there are a plethora of opportunities available to the cadets, in school weekly parades and training, weekend exercises and visits, summer camps, training courses and overseas expeditions.
With an excellent coastal location, the Royal Navy Section have access to Royal Navy local facilities for sea training during the school week and weekends, this summer they are deploying to the Mediterranean for a sailing expedition. All cadets in the RAF Section have flown at least twice in the past year as part of their syllabus training. They also have use of drones to build up special awareness and are building a VR simulator.
With its own indoor range and weapons the Army Section fire a variety of rifles, building up to a live firing weekend at one of the local MOD ranges. Planned exercises include living in the field, blank firing attacks, survival skills, section patrols, command tasks, team building, leadership and resilience.
The CCF is not a recruiting tool for the Regular Forces but cadets interested in this as a potential career will be well supported, 2 cadets from last year passed officer selection.
CCF training comes with a huge sense of achievement, none of the weekend training is compulsory but it is always fully subscribed, it is hard work but even more fun!