Fast-forward thirty years and I am now in the enviable position of being able to deliver so many of my lessons in the very best classroom that I could hope for – the Great Outdoors! Ardvreck has a long and proud tradition of harnessing the power of nature and introducing our children to this very special classroom from a very early age. There are few things that make me happier than watching our Nursery members traipsing off into the woods in the rain, wrapped up from head to toe in their snowsuits and literally skipping their way towards another adventure. Similarly, with three fully qualified Forest School Leaders amongst our ranks, our children are well catered for in terms of the expertise and experience that turns a simple stick on the floor of a woodland into a host of magical applications, a game or a work of art.
Whenever possible, I do my best to bring my Geography lessons outside and to link the children’s learning to real life experiences that they can see, touch, hear and smell. This has led to canyoning trips to see first-hand the effects of erosion in the upper course of a river; after all, you can’t really understand what is happening in the plunge pool of a waterfall until you have leapt off a cliff into one! Where else can you fully experience the effects of freeze-thaw weathering on a fault line than weaseling amongst the house-sized boulders that litter the Highland Boundary Fault in Glen Ogle.
This academic year, we have introduced our Adventure Fridays where each class in turn gets the opportunity to get out of school for an adventure together in the great outdoors. Before Christmas, I was able to take children from the Nursery and Little Ardvreck mountain biking and tree climbing, Form 1 and 2 canoeing and walking, Form 3 white water rafting, Form 4 rock climbing and Form 5 abseiling and indoor climbing. Form 6 used their day to complete their Geography Fieldwork project, measuring the River Barvick and noting how it changed as it made its way from its source to the sea. All of this comes in addition to our three Saturday Barvicks, the ‘Ard Challenge, whole school ski days and each class’ camping trip each year plus a host of weekend activities and adventures.
But why do we do all of this?