Case Study: Rock UK, Frontier Centre, Northamptonshire
School: All Saints CE Primary School, Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Subject: PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education)
Number of pupils: 40
A night walk, bush craft, taking a leap of faith on a huge swing and trying new foods were all part of an exciting trip that helps prepare a group of Warwickshire pupils for the big jump up to Secondary School.
For the past three years All Saints CE Primary School has taken its entire Year 6 to Rock UK’s Frontier Centre on a three-day residential trip that fulfils both the school’s educational needs and its spiritual philosophy.
Headteacher Sally Kaminski-Gaze explained: “We are a church school and it was whilst I was at one of the annual conferences for headteachers of church schools that my awareness about Rock UK was raised in a presentation by the manager who talked about the ethos and principles upon which Rock UK is based and organised. It has a Christian foundation and this shone through all their provision.”
The Frontier Centre is one of four centres run by Rock UK, which was started back in 1922 by a group of Sunday school teachers. Whilst it is a Christian charity, it welcomes schools and children from all faiths and backgrounds. Set in 122 acres of woodland and open ground with views across Stanwick Lakes nature reserve, the Frontier Centre offers more than 25 instructed activities including the country’s tallest wooden pole king swing which sees pupils fly through the air at up to 40mph.
Pictured: Enjoying the lakeland at the Frontier Centre.
Sally said: “The centre is near to the village of Irthlingborough in beautiful countryside near the River Nene. The safety of the children and young people who use it is paramount and security is tight. The atmosphere is welcoming and accepting of all, regardless of background, with the emphasis being on acceptance.”
The students immersed themselves in diverse activities including a night walk along the banks of the river, a walk the plank exercise that was based on trusting others in the group, bush craft survival techniques and the high ropes course. The ultimate experience was the king swing.
“The manner of all staff, especially the group leaders who are all highly skilled and trained, is encouraging and supportive,” said Sally. “They all make a real effort to remember pupils’ names and get to know them, which is so important with the less confident pupils. All children are actively encouraged to do their best, challenge themselves and really use their perseverance and develop resilience. Many pupils overcome fear, discover an inner strength and achieve things they never considered possible.
She said the centre’s nutritious meals were always welcome after spending time outside in the fresh air, and also helped pupils develop new tastes. Sally also said going ‘technology free’ really helped the pupils to engage with their natural surroundings and each other.
Pictured: Team building at Rock UK.
“During our stay we don’t watch telly, play on any electronic devices or allow mobile phones,” she said adding: “Surprisingly, we all survive very well and what’s more go straight to sleep at a reasonable hour”.
“Having our stay at the beginning of the school year gives the Year 6 pupils a chance to come together as a cohesive class and build relationships and friendships. It also enables staff to get to know the pupils and, importantly, to establish expectations for the forthcoming year.”
Back in the classroom
In a follow-up lesson as part of their Personal and Social curriculum and development, all pupils wrote a reflection on what they had learned during the visit about themselves which incorporated a consideration of ‘A Harvest of Life’ / ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ theme, and some examples are shown.
Sally said: “The stay serves as the foundation for their transfer to senior school which is built upon and developed throughout the year. The staff, myself included, are exhausted at the end but satisfied and content in the knowledge that for these pupils it had been a journey of self-discovery and an experience that will stay with them forever. The contribution to their personal, social, moral and spiritual development is immeasurable.”
Rock UK Frontier Centre: