The Headmaster’s Blog

Dear Parents,

Whilst we are proud of our beautiful setting at Huddersfield Grammar School, we are always looking for new ways to extend the opportunities for our children to experience the great outdoors. We do so in the face of mounting evidence that children in the United Kingdom are spending increasingly less time outside.

Last year, a report compiled by the National Office of Statistics indicated that one in nine youngsters in the UK had not set foot in any natural environment over the proceeding 12-month period. And this is by no means a British disease – in Japan, waterproof mobile phones have apparently been all the rage for over a decade, where it is not uncommon for the phone to accompany the user into the shower!

It is every bit as well documented, however, that exploring the outdoor world encourages young people to become more engaged with environmental issues and enhances well-being. It is also helps to tackle another key challenge faced by many a Western government: that of childhood obesity.

Whilst schools clearly have a key role to play in promoting healthy lifestyles and outdoor learning opportunities, the prevalence of academic league tables and funding cuts in the maintained sector are preventing too many young people from getting away from the classroom and learning through exploring the outdoors.
With this in mind, I am delighted to confirm that Huddersfield Grammar School will be partnering with The Bushcraft Company from next academic year, to offer our pupils exciting new opportunities to get immersed in the natural world and to leave with a real appreciation and understanding of it.

Founded in 2008, Bushcraft provides residential school trips with a difference, taking students to woodland environments for practical and teambuilding experiences, such as shelter building, wilderness cookery and even exploring plane wreckage scenarios! All of these opportunities are designed to build young people’s resilience, self-regulation, teamwork and leadership. These qualities are very much in line with one aspect of my vision for a Huddersfield Grammar School education: one that provides pupils at all levels of the school with opportunities to excel through learning how to lead others.

Our Year 7 students are already getting an early taste of the outdoors with their Lake District residential over the course of today and tomorrow. As I write this, I am preparing to drive off to meet the party at the YMCA National Centre, where the children will be canoeing, zip-wiring et al over the next couple of days. These are important moments, as the pupils reflect on their first weeks in the Senior School, have opportunities to bond as a group and to build positive relationships with their new teachers in an out-of-classroom context.

Schools should not just be about classrooms: they also have a crucial role to play in looking after the mental health of children, opening their eyes and broadening their horizons. Outdoor learning has an integral role to play in this – and we will be fully committed to it in the years ahead.

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