May 2019

Residential experience helps Year 7 students to achieve more than they thought possible

In May 2012, Withernsea High School held its first weekend residential opportunity for Year 7 students at the Kingswood Outdoor Centre in the Dearne Valley.

At its inception, the aim was to deliver a fun weekend of outdoor activities designed to boost confidence and help develop key life-skills, such as resilience and communication, in the school’s youngest students. 

Press play above to view highlights from this year's adventure. Direct link to view on YouTube: 

Now in its seventh successful year, the residential opportunity continues to go from strength-to-strength – regularly attracting large numbers of participants who are eager to embrace the experience and immerse themselves in the wide variety of activities on offer.

This year also marks a significant milestone as it’s the first time that all current students of the school, from Years 7 to 13 (Upper Sixth), will have been given the opportunity to take part. Since 2012, over 500 students have taken full advantage of the residential experience – gaining essential skills and making lasting memories.

This year’s residential took place over the weekend of Friday 10th to Sunday 12th May and attracted over 80 participants from the current Year 7 cohort. For many, it was their first full weekend away from their homes and families - offering them a unique taste of independence and responsibility.

Over the course of the weekend, students enjoyed participating in a range of activities including: climbing, abseiling, fencing and problem solving. However, the clear highlight for many was the raft building exercise – an activity which saw students learn how to build a raft out of logs, ropes and plastic drums. Any worries about getting wet soon disappeared as students fully-embraced their environment by diving head-first in to the water, as well as the task at hand.

Accompanying the students were eight members of staff, led by Headteacher Mark Crofts who commented: ‘From what I saw and heard over the weekend, and since having come back to school, it certainly seems like the Year 7 residential trip to the Dearne Valley was a huge success. The Kingswood Outdoor Centre lived up to expectations and our students got fully involved in all the brilliant activities. Their enthusiasm and good humour was evident throughout the weekend (even when it rained) and made for a really unique experience for all.

The weekend is all about realising what you have the potential to do: in so many students we saw courage, resilience, great teamwork and new friendships taking root.

The staff leaders and myself were particularly proud of how the students of Withernsea High School conducted themselves in public. Staff at Kingswood commented on how polite and helpful they were.

Well done to all involved and huge thanks to all the staff involved for preparing and leading such an excellent trip.’

Reflecting on the impact the trip has on students, Second in Humanities Andrea Monaghan said: ‘This was the seventh time that we have taken our Year 7 students away on this particular residential trip, and I have had the pleasure of being part of every one.

I have to say that it really is a highlight of my year. As always, the students faced many challenges over the weekend, including being away from the security of home and making their own beds! Every single student achieved more than they thought they could. They have come back from the weekend with increased confidence, self-esteem and maybe even a few new friends.

I was particularly delighted this year to see just how kind so many of our students were to one another - cheering one another on, offering each other support and encouragement. I am sure that, like many other students, they will still be talking about their Kingswood experience when they are at their Prom at the end of Year 11.

Later this term I will be taking over 90 Year 8 students on a Bushcraft Adventure, which will build on their experiences at Kingswood. I am sure that our current Year 7 students will be looking forward to their turn when they reach Year 8!’

Student feedback was equally positive, with many keen to share their thoughts and offer words of encouragement to future participants.

Ruby Gray commented: ‘The weekend was really fun. I got to talk to people who I don’t usually hang out with and I have made some new friends. I feel much more confident and really pleased that I managed to do things that I never thought I could do.’

Amelia Dayman said: ‘It was a brilliant weekend! I really enjoyed the raft building because I had never done anything like that before. I also really liked the high ropes, even though I’m extremely scared of heights!'

Offering words of encouragement to future participants, Ameila added: ‘The Kingswood trip is a great experience for anyone who is scared to try new things or be away from home. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new friends and reunite with old ones.’