Oaker Wood is a highlight for Year 6 at the Wyche CE Primary School in Malvern.
School: The Wyche CE Primary School, Worcestershire
Number of pupils: 19
Every child who attends the school expects to visit the residential centre during the Autumn Term whilst in their last phase of primary education.
Traditionally the school held its residential week in the summer term but re-arranged the dates for several reasons, the main factor was to create a greater bond within the class. Year 6 teacher Jon Westwood tells us about their experience of Oaker Wood after their most recent visit.
We first stumbled across Oaker Wood 10 years ago when we were forced to seek an alternative outdoor centre. After a brief phone conversation I was asked if I would like to visit Oaker Wood prior to confirming a booking. On arrival I was immediately drawn to the location, a huge tranquil woodland spread over many acres allowing activities to be spread across a huge area, but more importantly if I’m honest was the reception I received from David and all of the staff.
Success in our roles as teachers is all about interpersonal skills and the staff at Oaker Wood pride themselves on ensuring that every visitor whether staff or pupil feels truly valued (the staff make the effort to learn all the children’s names within the first few hours at the centre).
Over the years I have come to notice that there remains a core number of key staff that continueto work at Oaker Wood which I feel is a huge contributing factor to its success and the relationship that has been built between us is second to none.
“I’ve known everyone in the class throughout the school but I feel I have more friends now as I really know everyone in Year 6”. - Isla Harrison, Year 6
With all learning outside of the classroom teachers are asked to highlight objectives and outcomes when planning educational visits, but our residential aims and objectives are similar to the ones that rest at the heart of our curriculum articulated by stakeholders. They fall into the following categories: General Ethos, Relating to Self, Relating to Others and Managing Learning.
Without doubt each year our residential visit fulfils all of the above. By working alongside the staff at Oaker Wood a varied itinerary is planned with new activities introduced where appropriate. This year we noticed many improvements not only to activities but also to the environment.
During our first few residential visits we camped in tents in the woodland but over the years the camp has gone through several transformations, from tents to yurts to the cabins that are now situated in the woodland. There are two camps to choose from with similar facilities, a kitchen, toilets, showers and plenty of space for the children to explore and play. But one of the key features is the fire pit which children naturally gravitate towards in the morning, between activities and of course at night time. Ali (David’s wife) provides the food that is brought to the camp, which is always popular offering schools a balanced and varied diet whilst making every effort to meet the dietary needs of everyone attending.
I have visited many outdoor centres over my 20 plus years of teaching but Oaker Wood not only remains a highlight for my Year 6 class it remains a highlight for myself. It now feels like home from home and every class that I take to Oaker Wood expresses a sense of sadness when returning back to school as their experience has been such a positive one. This desire to return is reflected through many children choosing to hold their birthday parties at Oaker Wood either paintballing or quad biking.