15 Nov

This academic year sees Spring Brook Academy Upper School Key Stage 3 begin their outdoor education curriculum offer. With the success of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award that was introduced 2 years ago in Key Stage 4 Mr Hopkins has been eager to give the Key Stage 3 pupils similar experiences. It has been proven that exercise and being out and engaging with nature provides huge benefits for mental health as well as developing resilience, independence and teamwork. Further to this the pupils will be completing the John Muir Award during these sessions throughout the year. As visitors to the John Muir website will discover here..

“John Muir was an explorer, mountaineer, conservationist, botanist, amateur geologist and writer of distinction. He developed a passion for wild places growing up in the coastal town of Dunbar, east of Edinburgh. At age 10, he emigrated to the United States with his family. Muir embraced all nature from mosquitoes to mountain ranges, recognising that everything is connected. His passion for wild places led to a life-long quest to protect them. Muir’s writings helped people understand the importance of wildness. His activism saved Yosemite Valley in California and helped create the world’s first national park system.”

The award focuses on 4 areas:

  • Discover
  • Explore
  • Conserve
  • Share

In September our Spring Brook pupils were split into 6 groups to aim to discover and explore the local countryside and its wildlife. This will allow them to engage with the local environment and experience different terrains and weathers as the seasons change. Towards the end of the year our pupils will complete a small conservation project to protect the local countryside they have been exploring and along the way share their experiences through their school work and this blog.

Over the first half term of the year our pupils visited the first location to explore – Pule Hill on Standedge Cutting near Diggle. The pupils learned about the underground canal and the massive circular vents that circulate the air into the canal tunnel deep below. They then had to make their own way up to the disused quarry on top of Pule Hill – some taking on steeper climbs than others! Once in the quarry the pupils learned about dynamite and transporting the stone down the hill before exploring to find the hidden poem ‘Snow’ by local poet Simon Armitage etched into the rocks. This is one of 4 poems called ‘The Stanza Stones’ across the Peak District.

Once found we climbed out of the quarry and managed to find a tunnel in the hillside which some of our pupils were brave enough to squeeze through! Finally we walked over the top of Pule Hill – some of us experiencing very strong winds – before gully running down the side of the hill and back to the start.

All of our pupils enjoyed the challenges set for them and loved exploring the terrain and elements. It was also a first for some of our pupils to encounter some sheep which proved hilarious for some and terrifying for others!!

Everyone is looking forward to location 2 of our John Muir Award experience in the Christmas half term – we’ll keep you updated. *December 2019 update is now available here.

Mr Hopkins

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