Focus on: Rippledown Outdoor Learning Centre

Date Posted: 25/11/2015

School Travel Organiser discovers more about Rippledown Outdoor Learning Centre and what it can offer pupils in Key Stages 1 through to 3.

Since opening in 1977, Rippledown has hosted residential school trips for over 40,000 Primary school children giving them the opportunity to learn about the natural world.

The Rippledown tutors focus on learning objectives integral to the National Curriculum and apply them to outdoor leaning experiences.

Rippledown has plenty of outdoor activities such as mini-beast safari, pond dipping, shelter building, pipehenge, and ancient homesteads among others. Nearby, you’ll find the South Foreland Lighthouse, The White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Seafront, Castle and Museum. A day at the bay can be arranged for rock pooling, a visit to the WW2 Museum, Hellfire Corner, and a sustainability trail.

On site facilities include a newly refurbished sitting room, a dining room and a games room.

These experiences are always ‘safe, secure, sensible and sociable’ – Rippledown’s 4 S’s.

Richard Martin, centre manager explained: “Spending a week living, eating and learning together improves team and class dynamics as well as self-awareness and individual confidence. At Rippledown we repeatedly see the benefits to children and teachers who stay for a week.

What to expect

A typical week’s stay at Rippledown will go as follows, but also involves Richard creating bespoke learning experiences for each school group.

On Monday, the pupils arrive and settle in in the morning, followed by an afternoon spent learning how to take care of their outdoor equipment. Each student is given their own rugsack, cagoule and wellingtons for the week. After a homemade dinner, the group will take an evening stroll through the countryside before bed.

Tuesday morning will begin with breakfast, then the day’s activities are explained. Linking with PSHE, the learning activities then begin. These can include students completing blindfolded walks in the woodlands with a partner, or a larger group moving on a magic carpet to complete an obstacle course.

By Wednesday, it’s hoped that children will think for themselves and will pack their rucksacks and outdoor equipment without aid.

On Thursday, groups take part in map and compass work in the morning, using their newly learned skills in the afternoon for a long, countryside ramble. The evening will give the children a chance to reminisce and discuss their experiences during their stay so far.

Environmental art will take place on Friday morning, focusing on what has been experienced throughout the week. The pupils will create pictures using natural materials before their journey home.

During a week’s stay at Rippledown, a number of activities are on offer, using the centre's nearby countryside and seashore habitats or visits to the White Cliffs of Dover.

Children can also learn about mammal identification, woodland mini beast hunts, fresh water ecology, food webs and rocky shore ecology. Campfires and storytelling will also be on the cards.

There are both catered and self-catered options available for schools. Catered accommodation includes home cooked, seasonal food, packed lunches, and cereal and toast for breakfast.

For further information call 01304 364854 or visit

School Travel Organiser's Guide