Year Six youngsters at Portskewett’s Archbishop Rowan Williams Church in Wales Primary have enjoyed an innovative six week outreach project run by the Gwent Outdoor Education Service. Six sessions were held one day each week to develop confidence, maturity and team working skills and the pupils took part in orienteering, mountain biking, geo-caching, camp fire cooking, mobile tower climbing, shelter building and team challenges.

The final morning session, held on Friday 26th February, was devoted to orienteering and the Year Six pupils – provided with a map and instructions – followed a route in the school grounds. After lunch, they were introduced to the Gwent Outdoor Education Service mobile climbing tower – a nine metre high vertical structure with built-in grips for hands and feet. Safety is paramount and each child was provided with a hard hat and safety harness and instructed how to climb while remaining secure.

Adventurous eleven year old Lara Birkett reached three quarters of the way up the tower. She said: “It was fun and I really enjoyed the climb but at the same time it was quite scary as it seemed very high. I’d definitely do it again and aim for the top next time.”

With her was Bethan Silcox, also 11. She said: “Initially, it looked easy but as I climbed higher and higher I realised there was more to it than meets the eye.”

Lara and Bethan added: “The Outdoor Education Centre staff have encouraged us and been very friendly and supportive. They’ve put a smile on our faces!”

Suzanne Hamer, headteacher at Archbishop Rowan Williams Primary School said: “We want to provide rich learning opportunities that develop the whole child and equip them with skills for the future so I approached the Gwent Outdoor Education Service to create a bespoke package for our Year Six pupils to develop team building and problem solving in a practical way. We have seen a different side to many of the children, displaying skills and talents we don’t see in the classroom. Parents have commented on the enthusiasm and energy the children show for the project and the clear benefits of these sessions from a social perspective and by developing essential skills of problem solving and rising to the challenges.”

Head of the Gwent Outdoor Education service, Ian Kennett added: “The activities we offer are fantastic fun and they help build self-esteem and self-confidence as well as teamwork. We cater for school groups and other large parties offering tailored activity packages including caving, hillwalking, camping, climbing, canoeing and mountain biking. Our instructors at our three well-established centres in Gilwern, Skenfrith and Talybont-on-Usk are widely experienced so you’ll be in safe hands.”

Councillor Bob Greenland, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the Gwent Outdoor Education Service commented: “One of the council’s major priorities is education and that firmly includes activities provided by outdoor education. Many people in Monmouthshire have fond memories of the time they spent at the service’s centres and have been inspired to take up orienteering, camping or water sports for life. Monmouthshire is the ideal place for outdoor activities with fabulous opportunities for cycling on our rural roads, tackling the Wye Valley or Black Mountains on foot or even a circular five mile trek ending at one of our wonderful country taverns!”

To find out more about the Gwent Outdoor Education Service email: Jan@gwentoutdoorcentres.org.uk or telephone:01600 750221.