St Davids College

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Outdoor Education

The St David’s classroom goes far beyond four walls.

Pupils learn best with a variety of character-building experiences, where they develop resilience, confidence, skills, and talents which can then be transferred to the classroom and to real-world challenges.

Outdoor Education is at the core of the St David’s College curriculum with Years 5-10 having a full day every fortnight dedicated to it. The extensive programme includes conquering the mountains of Snowdonia through walking, orienteering, rock-climbing, bouldering, abseiling and expeditions; kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding and surfing on the Irish Sea and Snowdonia’s lakes; sailing a keelboat on the Menai Straits and learning to sail in the school’s fleet of dinghies at Llyn Brenig Sailing Club. The curriculum also includes caving and mine exploration, gorge walking, a local Conservation Project and skiing. St David’s College pupils have been represented in the GB Junior Sailing Squad and are members of the Welsh National Ski Team.

The programme culminates in Year 10 with an adventurous, week-long expedition, which is very much planned by staff and pupils together. In recent years these trips have included canoeing in Finland, kayaking the Outer Hebrides, mountain trekking in Morocco and caving in Western Ireland. The Year 10 expeditions are heavily subsidised by the school.

Although Outdoor Education is optional in Years 11-13, most pupils continue their pursuits via the weekend activities programme. Pupils new to the school in Sixth Form are very much encouraged to get involved. Sixth Formers can undertake a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Outdoor Education.

Additional expeditions run in the school holidays each year such as the ever-popular husky sledding in the Arctic, surfing trips, sailing and scuba diving.

Download the calendar of events and weekend activities here.

St David’s College has an outstanding outdoor education and activities programme that lies at the heart of the school’s life and mission to foster pupils’ spiritual, intellectual and physical wellbeing. This programme includes a range of enriching cultural, recreational and sporting opportunities as well as specific ‘compassion’ projects to enhance and extend pupils’ learning experiences.
Estyn, 2019

Read the full Estyn article on "Effective Practice" here

Outdoor Ed logos July21

These experiences are not only challenging and fun, but through them, the pupils grow in confidence and character, motivation to learn, health and wellbeing, social and emotional awareness, and environmental awareness. They develop activity skills and skills in teamwork, leadership, planning, and risk-taking – all vital lessons to enhance academic learning and life beyond school.

The Outdoor Education curriculum is guided by the UK’s ‘High-Quality Outdoor Education’ (HQOE) and ‘Outdoor Learning, Educational Visits and Adventurous Activities Programme’

Duke of Edinburgh

St David’s College is a licensed Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Centre, with all pupils in Year 9 participating in the Bronze D of E Award and many going on to complete Silver and Gold.

Staff and facilities

The Outdoor Education team is based in a purpose-built Log Cabin, with a fully equipped activity store, in the woods on the edge of the school grounds.

The team consists of highly qualified, professional Outdoor Education staff, who are also qualified teachers. This enables them to work seamlessly with the academic and pastoral teams in the school to understand every child’s individual needs. The team also works with academic teams on bespoke cross-curricular activity days.

The school owns a bouldering wall, a fleet of sailing dinghies, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards and supplies the equipment and safety requirements for all sports that the pupils undertake. Being on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, the coastline of North Wales and owning a fleet of minibuses means the facilities for outdoor education extend way beyond the normal school environment.

Good Schools Guide

"Outdoor education, so often offered by schools as an occasional residential trip, is a daily adventure for St David’s. Thirteen outdoor ed instructors take groups rock-climbing, canoeing, gorge-walking, surfing or, on the January day we visited, sea-kayaking. ‘It’s a gorgeous day to be on the sea’, said the intrepid teacher, who had tutored the group on Neep tides and informed the coastguard. A shed bursting with equipment supplies everything from whistles to wet suits, and waterproofs to walking boots, giving pupils professional kit without extra financial burden for the parents. The benefit of the activities to self-esteem and resilience is immeasurable, say parents who describe it as ‘unbelievable’ and ‘absolutely brilliant’. Boarders and day pupils can opt for outdoor ed activities at weekends. There’s a BTEC sport and outdoor activities for sixth form, as well as DofE gold expeditions. The department makes full use of the location between the sea and the mountains with a fleet of minibuses, allowing day trips to destinations other schools cannot reach."

Good Schools Guide review 2024

Awards & Qualifications

Ian Martin

Head of Department

Mr Ian Martin

Head of Outdoor Education