During their first week of the school year, the vast – vast majority of Y7 students across the country find out about their new school building, new teachers, new timetable and new rules etc. I’ll be honest. This kind of first week back is much easier than going to Outward Bound in Aberdovey, in Wales.
The old teacher in me often pauses:
Aberdovey is 5 hours away from home. We’re taking our Year 6 students to Wales on their very first day… what about the new school building, new teachers, new timetable, new rules?
The first week back used to be really easy. So why are we taking students on Outward Bound to Wales?
First of all, this is not about ‘team building’. The term itself does not reflect the power of the work that goes on there. As new parents might be aware, the concept of ‘Crew’ acts as the cornerstone of our work at school. It is called Crew because on a boat, passengers are catered to. Their main purpose is to arrive at the destination with as little effort as possible. They’re involved in activities, but not fully engaged in the journey. Crew, on the other hand, are responsible for the entire journey. They are engrossed in the activities of the ship. In fact without their individual and collaborative effort, the passage cannot happen. Crew reach the same destination as their passengers but the experience is significantly richer.
Crew is our way of ensuring that we help our students to be the very best that they can be – to help to change the world no matter how small or large the action may be. In order to fulfil our potential (whether you’re 11 years old or a 39 going on 40 year old Head of school) we need the support of others around us. Frances Moore Lappe once wrote:
‘I believe that it is almost impossible for people to change alone. We need to join with others who will push us in our thinking and challenge us to do things we didn’t believe ourselves capable of.’
During Outward Bound, students will be outside of their familiar zones; there is no doubt about this.
However, they will be joining a Crew (facilitated by our staff and OB’s staff) where students will form incredible bonds of trust, support, challenge and maybe eventually even love for one another. They will engage in experiences that will be hard. It’s not just about getting themselves to the top of the mountain (both metaphorically and literally speaking) but also about helping others, and allowing others to help you in order to get there. This is our common mission.
The concept of Crew undoubtedly exists across Year 8, and it is the most incredible thing that I have ever experienced in education. Students support each other, and indeed are supported, throughout very challenging events in school. The notion of being out of their familiar zones will continue over the next 5 and 7 years, and it will be Outward Bound in Aberdovey that will help to build the invisible threads that will circle around them.
So, the first week back is normally easy.
For some reason, I’d much rather have the first week like this one!
Kit list reminder
The awe-inspiring XP video from Aberdovey as recently shown to parents:
XP_TEASER_FINAL from Gwyn ap Harri on Vimeo.