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Young people heading for the hills!

“Young people’s confidence, resilience and aspirations are continuing to be challenged against a global backdrop of uncertainty, inequality and imbalance. The past three years of missed opportunity, disruption and insecurity to young people’s lives as a result of the pandemic remain as scars on their social and emotional development and behaviours.” 1

So states the 2022/23 report from The Outward Bound Trust Scotland: the leading outdoor educational charity in the UK, whose adventures and courses take participants on a journey of self-discovery.

One of the programmes offered by the Outward Bound Trust Scotland is the 5-day residential Adventure & Challenge Award. This award is at SCQF level 5 with 5 credit points and is most suitable for young people where additional attainment, through SCQF recognition, is an important outcome of the experience. The course inspires young people to become strong, resilient and curious – ready for the challenges of life.

The Outward Bound Trust world-class outdoor education centre at Loch Eil, near Fort William, in the outdoor capital of the UK, is the base for this award. Based on the shores of Loch Eil with views to Ben Nevis, the centre has recently had a £2million refurbishment. There is availability for up to 120 young people and 10 staff, in ensuite rooms. As a charity they ensure that all young people can benefit from these experiences regardless of their social or financial circumstances. Charitable funding is available to support those who would otherwise not benefit.

 The Adventure and Challenge Award comprises 7 units: 

  1. Improve confidence to overcome new challenges.
  2. Develop skills in setting and achieving personal goals.
  3. Increase self-awareness and personal responsibility.
  4. Increase awareness of other people.
  5. Improve ability to work and communicate with other people.
  6. Increase concern for and awareness of the natural environment.
  7. Develop an action plan.

One of the schools which has embraced the opportunities that the Adventure & Challenge Award offers young people is Braeview Academy in Dundee and, with the support of the Northwood Charitable Trust, Outward Bound charitable funding made this course possible.

At Braeview, the culture, ethos and vision reflect the belief that every child matters. The school values and aims provide the framework for inclusion, attainment and achievement. The Outward Bound experience is part of that drive for equality of opportunity amongst its young people. The school uses some of its Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) to support participation in the Adventure and Challenge Award, ensuring that those who most need the experience to develop their skills and confidence are able to attend and reap the resultant benefits.

Jackie Telfer, Depute Headteacher Support for Pupils at Braeview Academy, explains that there is much more to the experience for their young people than just gaining a qualification or jumping off a cliff - it also has the potential to improve life chances and inspire further attainment and good attendance at school.

This is a life-changing opportunity for the young people that we take to Loch Eil. The course helps them to build deeper relationships with staff and fellow pupils, as well as increasing their confidence, self-belief and self-esteem. This leads to a sense of belonging within the school community and a greater desire to get involved with school events, contribute to pupil voice and take advantage of the leadership opportunities on offer at Braeview.

Guidance teacher at Braeview Academy, Caroline Penny, agrees that the trip can be transformational for their young people.

Last year, one of the less confident, ‘invisible,’ girls was really nervous about doing the cliff jump, but overcame her nerves and did it. She was beaming when she was applauded by the other pupils and also by tourists who had gathered to watch. She was so proud of herself and this, as well as the whole-hearted acceptance by her peers, gave her the confidence to try other outdoor activities where the sky was the limit! These are the shared moments between teachers and pupils facilitated by the Outward Bound experience that are totally priceless.

Staff at Braeview also report enhanced relationships with parents as a welcome side-effect of their young people’s participation in the Outward Bound programme. Jackie says:

Parents see how much you value their young people, so parental engagement has also greatly improved.

Caroline can’t praise the Outward Bound experience for both pupils and staff enough.

When I got off the bus with them, I actually had tears in my eyes because it was just the most fantastic week. And I still think of that night [rowing] with all the kids, there were 24 pupils that we wouldn’t normally put together. And they’re now a team. I know I can work with them now for the next four years until they’re in sixth year, and they will be leaders in our school. they will be part of a team of leaders because that bond they developed, what they remember from it, is going to continue.

As a generation of young people across Scotland continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, the relevance and need for the Outward Bound Trust to offer outdoor experiences to take young people out of their comfort zone and support their well-being and resilience is greater than ever. As the Outward Bound Trust concludes in its 2022/23 report:

“With over 80 years of experience in developing vital life skills that young people need to thrive in an uncertain world; our mission and core values, combined with the skills of our instructors against the backdrop of the inspiring, wild locations in which we operate mean we are able to deliver quality adventurous, residential experiences that will create a long-lasting impact on young people’s aspirations and life chances.”3     

If you’d like to find out more about what the Outward Bound Trust can offer your school, contact Freda Fallon at freda.fallon@outwardbound.org.uk or on 07919 887716.

  1. The Outward Bound Trust Scotland Report 2022/23 – page 3
  2. https://www.gov.scot/publications/pupil-equity-funding-national-operational-guidance-2023/ Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) is additional funding allocated directly to schools and targeted at closing the poverty-related attainment gap. The Scottish Government has committed to this funding as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge (SAC) programme from 2017/18 up until 2025/26. This investment further empowers headteachers and Local Government to achieve their ambitions to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty.
  3. The Outward Bound Trust Scotland Report 2022/23 – page 18

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