Located in the Conway Valley on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park is Oaklands Outdoor Education Centre, which provides outdoor learning experiences for students in Years 5, 6 and 7.
Originally a Victorian house, Oaklands has been extended and refurbished as a modern outdoor education centre. The site stands in a large area of woodland, and provides easy access to the mountains, lakes, rivers and sea.
A typical trip for a group of children will involve team work, confidence building and physical activities, and teachers can book a week-long residential, a weekend visit, or even just a half day if a shorter visit is required. All activities are offered from the most basic levels to advanced and specialist courses.
As well as lending itself to outdoor learning in the form of physical activities such as sea cliff traversing and climbing, Oaklands can tailor its programmes to fit in with National Curriculum subjects such as Art and Drama.
The centre has a large annexe for drama groups to put on/rehearse performances, or to use for painting and crafts. The grounds themselves and the surrounding area may also prove inspirational for Art students looking to draw or paint the outdoor scenery.
Oaklands also provides links to PSHE, Geography and PE – all linked through the physical activities on offer. The staff can tailor-make a course in order to meet a teacher’s aims and objectives prior to a visit.
In addition, Oaklands offers GCSE and A Level PE modules in rock climbing, canoeing and orienteering, and supports Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.
School groups can enjoy a number of activities during a stay at Oaklands. Underground mining is one; the group will get to go underground in either natural caves or manmade mines.
The underground activities vary in difficulty – some caves can be walked around, others might need to be crossed by ropes.
Social History can also be tied into one of these underground activities, due to the history of the mines of north Wales.
Sea level traversing is another option for the braver group of students; the activity involves journeying along a section of coastal cliff with the use of climbing equipment. Most sea level traversing takes place on the Anglesey coast.
Likewise, gorge walking, another wet activity, can be undertaken near the centre. There are a variety of levels of gorge walking in the area surrounding Oaklands, and some of them involve scrambling over rocks or even taking a swim under a waterfall.
Being on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park means that Oaklands is well situated for mountain walking and scrambling, and there will be the chance to do a ridge walk or walk to the summit of one of the local peaks providing the weather is suitable. For less able students, a lower level walk in less rugged terrain can also be arranged.
Raft building, orienteering, problem solving, kayaking and rock climbing are other examples of activities that can be enjoyed at the centre. Teachers can choose prior to arriving what activities they’d like included during their visit.
The Oaklands centre can cater for up to four residential groups at a time; there are 52 beds in traditional dormitories for students, and separate en-suite rooms available for staff.
There are also secure changing facilities, with showers and toilets, independent of the house, for school groups wishing to come along for a day.
To enquire about making a booking, teachers should call 01690-710500.
For further information visit oaklands-centre.co.uk.