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Outdoor Education is growing and thriving at Highgate, with pupils being given the opportunity to participate in activities from Y1 in the Pre-Prep right up to Y13 in the Senior School, with two full time staff working on the delivering an integrated programme for the Foundation.

In the Pre-Prep pupils are taken through the ‘Forest School’ programme of outdoor learning in the summer term, with staff who are trained to deliver the course that focuses on learning about the natural environment as well as teaching pupils self-reliance, problem solving, communication and team work skills. This is done in the School’s outdoor classroom, a covered learning space in a patch of woodland on the School grounds.

In the Junior School, this is built on and developed, with some practical skills being introduced, and outdoor education is embedded more deeply in the taught curriculum. For example during their humanities studies of the Stone Age, pupils are taught a practical session on fire lighting using traditional techniques under the guidance of qualified staff. When pupils join the Junior School in Y3 they have a camp out on the school field in September to serve as a bonding experience, and in Y6 just before they leave, pupils are taken to South Wales for a week’s activity trip at an outdoor centre.

In the Senior School the focus is on progression of skills and experiences, building on the foundations laid in the earlier years. In years 7 and 8 pupils have the opportunity to undertake the Outdoor Education Club on the Thursday lunchtime for a term at a time. In these sessions pupils have a mix of learning about the natural environment as well as developing practical bushcraft skills such as carving and using tools, making natural cordage, fire lighting and shelter building.

Outdoor education is also developed through the SpEx programme – pupils can orienteer, climb and sail as part of their afternoon SpeX sessions once they join Y9, and there is a summer term climbing trip for Y9 and 10 to North Wales.

Once pupils are in Y10 they can embark on the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh Award programme. The School offers all three levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) running in Y10,11 and 12, and we are currently one of the biggest individually licensed centres in London with around 230 pupils enrolled across all levels. Expeditions run to Snowdonia, The Lake District, The Peak District, The Brecon Beacons, The South Downs and The North Downs through the Lent and Summer term, and pupils are also engaged in a variety of other activities for their various sections.

There are also a number of large adventurous overseas expeditions that take place for the older years in the Senior School. Last year 14 pupils in Y11 climbed Stok Kangri, a 6150m peak in the Indian Himalaya, and 20 pupils have signed on to trek to Everest Base Camp next Easter. The trips programme is expanding and is designed to show a progression of skills and experiences as pupils go up through the School, culminating with a large trip of this nature.


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