Reports for Great Outdoors, Wild Woodland and Cook Alfresco during Active Learning Week 2019 at the ALC- Run by CAU.
This year there was an increase in numbers in each of these activities held in the Outdoor Learning Resource at the ALC, with an average of 20 participating students each day+ supporting staff. In addition there was also a visit from Senorita Soriano’s Italian day group. Fortunately we were blessed with good weather all week, which always makes a huge difference when outside all day.
On Monday CAU lit the Pizza oven so that Senorita Soriano’s ‘Italian Day’ group could make their own, then bake them. The OL classroom was in use with a sixth form Health and Road Safety group, so the pizza dough was kneaded outside on the Dragon Lawn, and toppings added. Pupils had to wait patiently for their yummy pizzas which were so big they had to be cut up first, so the oven could cope with 4 at a time!!! Well done Ms Soriano for making the dough, it was lovely, and what a bonus we were able to freeze some for Thursdays’ Alfresco group. Thank you.
On Tuesday and Wednesday Wild Woodlands and Great Outdoors activities were held. Although both followed the same format, each day had its own distinctive theme. One being trees, working with wood and creating features. The second, having a more horticultural and bird life focus. As it turned out several pupils chose both and Ms Unwin was able to give those students the opportunity to lead the others at various points during the second day. This was great to see, well done Luke, Cameron, Josh, James and Betsie. Pupils loved building the tepees and bivouacs, sawing pallets for fencing and baton staves for fruit cages. Their chalk drawings of birds on the flagstones were lovely. Making theirown mini ponds for our amphibians proved to be a popular activity. Sadly something has already started munching through our planted cabbage? The Castle ARB students and staff joined us on Wednesday, in time to have a bacon roll in the morning and left shortly after their hot dog and packed lunch. What are we saying here? Only joking, in between times they joined in with everything else and still found time to make a watering can tree and weed and water their own gardens. After lunch Ms Unwin’s group did some conservation work which was undertaken with relish and most of the overhanging brambles have been cut back. However it was the ‘nettle bash’ using hazel beaters which created the most fun and laughter. The feedback at the end of the day was very positive, with students talking animatedly to each other, but that may have had something to do with the strawberries and ice cream treat to finish.
Thursday’s Cook Alfresco was completely different in that once students knew what they were doing; they were then responsible for completing each of the many tasks which led to a food opportunity. Students were encouraged to help themselves to squash/water throughout the day to remain hydrated. They also had a large parachute canopy in the woods to shade themselves when eating or resting; not much of the latter but plenty of the former!! To some it must have felt like they were eating all day. Well they were, but in small amounts. Also all of the food had to be prepared fresh on site and in a scrupulously clean and hygienic way. There was a copious washing of hands and knives and hair nets were worn when they were involved in food preparation. The firewood had to be collected and cooking fire and pizza oven lit by 10.30.Pupils were encouraged to rotate so that each had opportunities to tend the fires and keep the heat going.
A healthy orange, apple and nectarine starter got them going, before peas, beans and lettuce were picked from our own veg beds, washed and shelled to make one salad and celery, peppers, cucumber and carrot prepared to make a second. Each drizzled with a little olive oil, basil and mint. Meanwhile, potatoes were wrapped for baking as were chocolate bananas. By this time both fires needed constant attention and pupils took it in turns to do this, allowing them to knead their pizza dough and put on their toppings. The pizza oven was prepared beautifully, retained its heat and cooked all of the mini pizzas in a matter of minutes. They were consumed equally as quickly!! As soon as the hot potatoes were ready they were eaten with butter. No waste there. Once plates were washed and left to dry in the sun, pupils started to prepare their rump steak kebab with added tomato and pineapple, (cheese for the veggies), and whilst they were sizzling, they wrapped a parcel of salmon each and added a beef burger to the grill for good measure. The rolls were of assorted shapes, but no one cared, it was all consumed with about half of the salads- good try! To round it off there were the scrummy bananas with melted chocolate and water melon for those who didn’t like bananas.
After a short rest to let that settle, everyone got stuck in to clearing everything away to the 8 wheelbarrows used to carry it all. Students sat in the shade on the lawn and washed up all of the cutlery and left it to dry. Finally, they gave each other a verbal feedback, (while I listened in), of the day’s events. Everyone happy and pleased with themselves: Some outstanding pupil performances, you know who you are! Thanks to all supporting staff. See you next year.
The weather stayed dry and warm throughout the day, with a slight breeze. All 20 students, including 4 from the Castle ARB, quickly registered before making their way to the ‘Dragon ‘ lawn. After a few brief explanations and knowing that the one main rule for the area was ‘Do no harm’, students and supporting staff (Ms Johnston, Mrs Gliddon, Mrs wright, Mr Hill and later Mrs Sleeman) assisted in raising a parachute canopy between 4 conifers, which provided a shady, whole group place throughout the day. Students also laid out tarpaulins, where they wished, so they had a second place to sit, relax and talk to a partner. Having watched how to slice a large water melon safely, Mrs Gliddon and students completed the task, whilst others poured the squash. Suitably refreshed all set about collecting wheelbarrow loads of fire wood for both the open fire and pizza oven, James was strong enough to carry over a big log too. Evie and her team built the fire ready to be lit later. Whilst that was going on others got stuck into making a crunchy pea, bean and carrot salad which was then dressed with oil and fresh herbs from our garden beds. We took an early break and had honey cakes, topped with nutmeg, cinnamon and drizzled with honey, and a mug of tea. That never touched the sides!! This took us to the serious stuff. Everyone helped make fire starter nests out of different tinders and both fires were lit. This meant of course they had to be tended at all times. Well done Mr Hill and Mrs Gliddon who helped oversee their various groups of students in doing this. Great job! Meanwhile jacket potatoes had to be wrapped in tin foil, as did the bananas with chocolate centres. Rump steak kebabs had to be threaded onto skewers. Reward for all of this industriousness came in the form of a hot dog or cheese roll for the veggies! Back to the preparation, chicken, onions and bacon were sliced and chopped before browning in the paella pan, chicken stock, spices and paella rice were added and then cooked slowly, lovingly tended by Ms Johnstone and her team. Tiger bread was sliced and lunch was served. The paella topped with peas parsley and a wedge of lemon was a great hit. The baked potatoes with butter were perfect with the kebabs being slightly over done. After some more squash and once the washing up was done, this time indoors, with hot water, with Mrs Wright supervising, it was time to prep the Hawaiian pizzas with extra ham, cheese and fresh pineapple. Taking it in turns two at a time students used the pizza peel to place their pizzas in the very hot oven. I minute later out it came. I minute later –all gone!!!!! Where do they put it all? The bananas followed and were suitably gooey and delicious.
All the washing up items were stacked and any rubbish bagged. The fires were left to cool and we moved back to the Dragon lawn to discuss what we had done, how well we had done it, how much they had enjoyed each element. The staff collectively felt that the whole group had done brilliantly and were deserving of 3 praise zaps each plus a final bowl of strawberries and chocolate ice cream.
In addition to the individual students attending OL sessions each week, Ms Unwin works with the whole school during IAG time. Currently KS4 pupils have been attending the outdoor learning resource, in weekly rotation, with their tutor groups since September, (sessions being interspersed with invited speakers from the IAG themed calendar). Most of year 10 helped to dig out the tree holes ready for year 7 to plant tree saplings, to create their new wood on the school field. Other year 10’s laid wood chippings trails throughout the outdoor learning wood, which has been continued by year 11 and which has allowed access for all subjects, regardless of weather. Some year 11’s have ‘had a go’ at making hazel hurdles: these have acted as a barrier around the lawn, whilst the grass has been dormant. The final 2 classes will have their sessions following mock exams. In addition to the practical ‘Conservation and Conversation’ activities, students have been invited to be creative over a cup of tea/squash in the ALC classroom, painting WW1 helmets, poppies for the memorial tree, sunflowers for the fence, staining wood for information signs, weaving dream catchers and door wreaths. The sixth form will be the next group to attend this wonderful facility, before KS 3 students begin a programme of planting, harvesting and tasting in the horticulture area.
Students Seamus Bolitho 8JP, Aiden Hosband 9BJK, Truan Jack 7ZJS, Keira McKee 8SAZ, Finn Hooton 7CB, Lewis Steer 10APB, Tommy Barrett 10 JY, Reuben Thompson 9EP, SPRU students David Read, Rose Hooker, Becca Baxx, Jubilee Challenge students Hayden Houghton 9ELG, Emily Gillespie 10 ACS, Sam Tancock 10 FCA and Dylan Harvey 8JP have all been instrumental in laying down wood chippings for woodland trails and filling with sawdust and siting 5 x scarecrow figures, creating den 1, snapping twigs for tinder, clearing moss and weeding between flagstones, cleaning classroom windows, painting poppies and sunflowers, whilst working with Ms Unwin. Underlying all of this activity students have the chance to discuss things which cause them anxiety and stress, venting their anger and frustrations in a safe context, understand their emotional responses, give reign to their creative sides, feel more positive about themselves and yes, have fun. Two students regularly return at break time each week to continue a rapidly developing interest in bird watching.
Jan 23rd yr.8 learning to learn day included a ‘codes and cyphers’ problem solving trail in the Outdoor learning Resource area, at the ALC.
The 21 stations (designed by Mrs Sapelkina Tambling) were set out around the OL area by resource manager, Ms Unwin. The wood chipping trails (kindly donated by Glendales), and laid down by students working with Ms Unwin (the most recent being yr. 11 tutor groups), were constantly ‘topped up’ on the day. This ensured that no one from year 8 (all 220 of them), got wet or muddy underfoot, in spite of the high water table, and the wooded area and surrounds were protected from heavy footfall.
Arriving 60 at a time throughout periods 1-4, students worked in 2’s endeavouring to solve all of the ingenious problems before returning to main school to complete the rest of their maths day.
This very successful event is in its 2nd year. Well done one and all.
During the autumn and early spring, years 10 and 11 will have a session in OL with the year tens visiting the top of the school playing fields to dig tree holes (220). Thus they support year seven in creating a new wood, with the year 7 pupils each planting and naming a tree (generously supplied by the Woodland Trust).
Glendales continue to support the school by providing wood chippings, which students then lay as trails throughout the OL resource area. This ensures that all classes and visitors can access the site without getting muddy underfoot.
There have already been numerous visitors to the area from outside of the school and all, without exception, have been astounded by what they have seen, finding it an uplifting experience.
Sixth form specialist provision students David Read, Rose Hooker, Max Harmer and Tom Davison + GCSE Science students Caitlin Murray, Charlie Vickery, Thomas Newport, Eric Richards, Chloe-Marie Richards are all attending a river ecology trip to Sydenham House (River Lyd), organized by Ms Unwin on Thursday 23rd February. Under the auspices of West Country Rivers Trust Mr David Chapman and Ms Shona McCombie will be providing the expertise. The Launceston students will also be accompanied by Ms Hall and Mrs Ward (SPRU) and Mr Donahew (Science).