Letter from the Head - 28th January 2022
In this issue: A focus on Outdoor Education
This has been a somewhat challenging week, with significant numbers of COVID cases amongst both staff and students. I'm very grateful to you for your continued support in ensuring your children take regular lateral flow tests - it really does make a difference.
It is all too easy at such a time to become very inward-looking, so instead I want to focus this week's letter on a subject very close to my heart - outdoor education.
There are many reasons it's important to spend time outdoors - it keeps you fit, it promotes good mental health, and it gives you an appreciation for nature. But I also believe it's the best place to teach responsibility, our third value. Spending time away from home and familiar comforts forces you to be self-reliant. It exposes students to risks, and teaches them how to manage and overcome those risks.
This is why we're planning to run a lot of trips / activities this summer:
I've written about the Duke of Edinburgh's Award before. We now have around 80 students involved at Bronze, Silver and Gold level (Years 10, 11 and Sixth Form respectively). They are currently logging hours of volunteering, skill development and physical activity, and we're starting to prepare for their expeditions in the summer. The Bronze and Silver groups will be staying relatively local, but the Gold expedition will be taking place in the Brecon Beacons, with some tough mountains to climb!
We've entered a team into the Ten Tors challenge. Taking place on Dartmoor over a weekend, teams from all across the countries will be competing to complete a gruelling 30 mile trek in the fastest possible time. They have practice weekends coming up in March, and I'm really looking forward to joining our team for one of these.
This week, Year 11 had an assembly from the National Citizenship Service. This is a phenomenal programme, which involves students signing up for a two week programme after their GCSEs. The first week is a residential at an outdoor adventure camp, where students can experience a wide range of exciting activities. The second week brings students back to Gloucester, where in teams of 15 they'll plan and deliver a community project. The total cost is around £1500, but it's very heavily funded by the government, so the total cost to students is just £50, with support available if needed. Students can sign up at www.wearencs.com and I'd hugely advise Year 11 and Year 12 (who will have an assembly in due course) to consider getting involved.
Our RAF Cadet Force will be beginning after half term. We'll be recruiting a small number of students to join over the next fortnight, who we hope will become our first NCOs, before opening the squadron fully in the summer term, and in due course cadets will be able to complete camps all over the UK and in more exotic locations like Cyprus too!
We have had a great response to the Year 8 residential. Our current Year 8s missed out on both the traditional end of year 6 trips, and also on the Year 7 residential we had hoped to run with them in September thanks to COVID - so we're determined to make it up to them. We now have close to 200 signed up to spend three days in South Yorkshire this summer completing various adventurous activities.
And last but definitely not least, we have our planned GLT expedition to Borneo in 2023. We've had a great response from students and are currently working through the applications, but I can say that it looks like HP will have more students on the expedition than any other GLT school!
There will be more opportunities to get involved with these sorts of activities over the coming months, and I'd very much encourage students to get involved.
With best wishes,