Barely had Repton Prep made its characteristically bright and energetic start to a new Michaelmas term but staff and pupils in Years 6, 7 & 8 packed bags, climbed aboard coaches and headed offsite for a range of exciting adventures.

To some it may seem curious to hit the road so soon after starting, but nobody who witnessed the collective grins of anticipation tinged with that positive nervousness that precedes a really sincere learning experience could doubt how valuable the Repton Prep tradition of start-of-year Outward Bound trips truly is.

The Repton Prep community prides itself on the ability to provide opportunities for our pupils to bond as a year group at the start of each academic year. We welcome new pupils and boarders annually and the opportunity to work together as a team and make new friendships provides the perfect balanced start to the pupil’s schooling. That coupled with the deepening of that impact via the residential nature of these trips serves to build character, open minds and foster quality relationships through shared experience.

The locations for these visits are among the best in the business in our opinion. Whitemoor Lakes for the Year 6 a manageable introduction to residential adventure visits, with a nicely enclosed campus coupled with plenty of bravery-testing fun on and off the water. Hollowford, something of a big-sibling to Whitemoor Lakes and with just enough increase in scale and adrenaline to give the pupils a sense of year-on-year progression was the Year 7 venue of choice, and Anglesey’s dramatic coastline for camping, coasteering, dolphin-spotting and beachcombing was the decidedly grown-up choice for our oldest pupils in Year 8. Not to be left out even if left behind, the Year 5s also warmed up for their Outward Bound induction next year with a combination of onsite adventures on Repton Prep’s boating lake and forests, and a trip out to Cresswell Crags.

As well as developing skills, the purpose of these adventurous activities is to challenge students to think about the way they work and their attitude to it, as well as providing bonding opportunities across the year group. In addition, residential courses provide the ability to develop relationships with staff and peers, adapt to a new environment, be self-aware and self-critical and to seek and accept advice.

The educational benefits are widely reported and some are listed below:

  • Improve academic achievement.
  • Provide a bridge to higher order learning.
  • Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments.
  • Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people.
  • Develop active citizens and stewards of the environment.
  • Nurture creativity.
  • Provide opportunities for informal learning through play.
  • Stimulate and inspire.
  • Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty.
  • Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk.
  • Improve attitudes to learning.
  • Giving young people responsibility for achieving these outcomes helps them to learn from their successes and failures.
  • Learning outside the classroom provides support for many different curriculum areas.

The impact of these trips is palpable. One of our new boarders, a Year 8 pupil doing a year placement from Spain was struggling with homesickness in boarding and was worried about the time away in Anglesey. She returned full of joy and happiness at the wonderful experience she had, and it has transformed her attitude to school life, cementing firm friendships both in her year group and the boarding house. She said, ‘There were a lot of activities and I spoke to new friends that I hadn’t met before. I liked coasteering the best because I love to jump off rocks – they were very tall and it was super fun! I am excited to do more trips like this.’

It is no wonder the wider Repton Prep community seem likewise convinced of the value these trips have conferred on their children. ‘Our daughter thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience’ said one parent. ‘She gained some independence being away from home and trying out different activities, but as important was the fact she made memories that will stay with her for life.’ This was by no means an isolated view: another parent contacted the School to express that these experience followed ‘an excellent format that allows for team bonding at the beginning of term when the friendships need time to develop.