28 Apr HT Blog 29 – LOTC
Ask any adult to reminisce about the highlights of their school days and they will most likely not talk immediately about their History, French or Maths lessons but instead tell stories about trips that they went on or visitors from outside school who came to visit them and who talked about something that they found really interesting. At Daubeney, learning outside the classroom (often abbreviated to LOTC) activities form a hugely important part of our curriculum offer to our students, not just because we want them to have pleasant memories when they get older but actually because we genuinely believe that these opportunities can enrich a young person’s educational experience and provide real learning moments that are often difficult to replicate in a more traditional classroom setting. In September, for example, we will be taking thirty students, for the third year running, to Brecon Beacons in Wales for a week of character building activities and outdoor learning sessions so that the skills they learn there, such as resilience, determination and an ability to form effective relationships with others, can be used to support their learning in lessons when they return to school. This week, on Wednesday, a similar number of Year 9 students will be taking part in a different kind of LOTC activity, namely a Geography fieldwork trip to the Norfolk Broads to look at the impact of tourism on the area. Our students will spend the day in Wroxham, speaking to locals and visitors about how tourism has affected the town and then taking a river cruise along the Norfolk Broads to investigate how the effect of tourism on the natural habitat is managed. These activities will help to consolidate classroom learning and also ensure that our students understand the importance of asking questions and finding out the answers for themselves. Although some schools are often reluctant to take Geography students out of the classroom at KS3 and limit their field work practice to inside the school gates, we know that fieldwork is a vital component of the GCSE curriculum so it makes sense for these skills to be taught before KS4 begins and for vital knowledge to be learned ahead of the commencement of GCSE studies. Giving our students the opportunity to take skills, knowledge and understanding gained in the classroom and put them into practice in the real world means we are preparing them for not just their Geography GCSE but also for the future, and in Year 8, the same students who are going to Wroxham this week have already carried out a study on coastal management in Southwold and so understand this is more than just a change of scenery or a jolly out of school. At this stage of their educational development, they have become adept at developing hypotheses, collecting data and presenting findings, whilst all the time being mindful that they are not the only ones on the beach and that they are representing their school community. As students get older and the demands of academic learning grow, of course, expectations of fieldwork investigations increase, and during the visit to Wroxham our students will need to show how they interpret the data and explain what it reveals. This kind of real-world approach to Geography learning will also prepare our Year 9 students to think about how they could have improved their investigation so that when we come to develop their GCSE field work enquiries on other LOTC sessions, they have an even deeper understanding of what they need to do.
The following week, on Tuesday May 7, our Year 8 students will be watching a performance of a play called County Lines by a company named AlterEgo Creative Solutions, who were commissioned initially by Norfolk Constabulary to develop a play that raised awareness around Child Criminal Exploitation, specifically in regards to County Lines drug trafficking that sees vulnerable adults, children and young people targeted by organised groups and gangs to groom, trick, trap and manipulate them into trafficking drugs and sometimes weapons. The play will explain what County Lines is and how can it affect children and young people and what grooming is and how it can apply to County Lines, as well as outlining the similarities and potential crossovers between Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and, importantly, explaining where children, young people and their families can go to for help and advice. Although the play may be challenging for some members of the audience, there is an important message that, quite simply, needs to be heard, and it is vital that as a cohesive community of adults (teachers and parents) we are able to raise awareness of the coercive process that some young people may have been through that has resulted in them being criminally exploited – a process that can all too easily make it seem as though they have made their own choices. With high profile cases around the country currently making the news on a regular basis, it is all of our duties to raise awareness of this subject; councils, charities, support agencies, schools, parents and carers all need to engage with and acknowledge this issue in order to give young people the tools and knowledge that they need to keep themselves and their friends safe. The production will have the full support of Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board, and members of this organisation, who will also be present at the performance, will make sure that the appropriate care is in place should any of the young people wish to discuss the issues in the play afterwards. More information on County Lines, should anyone require it, can be found on the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board website https://www.bedford.gov.uk/social-care-health-and-community/children-young-people/safeguarding-children-board/practitioners/county-lines/.
What happens in classrooms, of course, is of huge importance to the development of our students, but so too is what happens outside of classrooms, and at Daubeney we are committed to ensuring that the breadth of our curriculum – for all students – includes LOTC experiences that will enhance, enrich and improve learning of all types over time so that our young people are fully prepared for the lives that will lead once they leave school.