Christ the King College, a joint-faith Secondary School, has always had a global outlook and offers a range of trips and exchanges including Spanish, French and Norwegian exchanges, trips to Italy, Greece and Poland.
School: Christ the King College, Isle of Wight
Number of pupils: 11
Pauline Stirling, head of Citizenship and PSHE, explained that World Challenge, a provider of overseas adventure travel programmes, was highly recommended by her colleague who set up the previous two four-week expeditions: “As head of Citizenship and PSHE, and Duke of Edinburgh Award manager, I worked more with KS4 students and so wanted to target this age group.”
11 students signed up in October 2016, ranging from Year 8 – 10 at that time, in preparation for the expedition to Morocco in July 2018. Students raised the money in a variety of ways from bag packing, to getting part-time jobs, to selling eggs from their own chickens. There was a practice expedition on Dartmoor in October 2017. Conditions on Dartmoor during Storm Brian may not have been the ideal preparation for the heat of Morocco, but the experience certainly brought the team together. It was also an opportunity for the team to meet Dan, the expedition leader in Morocco.
In July 2018, we met Dan again for our build-up day and then the following day at Gatwick before our flight to Marrakesh.
Following a night in the Hotel Ali in Marrakech for acclimatisation, we took a minibus through the Atlas Mountains to Tinejdad, on the edge of the Sahara Desert, for the community engagement element of the expedition. We were met by our host Brahim at his home which was going to be our home for the next week. Brahim, his family, and their artist friend Rachid, were all very welcoming.
We were struck by the intense heat, over 40 degrees every day, as soon as we arrived and so were pleased to find out we were sleeping on the roof of the house. We all mucked in and helped with the food preparation and clearing up each day. I have to say the food was amazing! We even got to visit the local souk to buy fresh fruit and herbs for the cooking.
Our project was to build a toilet for a school in a village about 20 minutes’ drive from Tinejdad. We had to plan the budget, buy the materials, and work very hard – no escaping the heat at any point during the day.
There was some R and R time each afternoon and evening, when we visited the Ksar (castle), hamam (baths), Rachid’s art gallery and even a swimming pool. We were proud to have finished building the toilet on our last day and then it was an eight hour minibus drive up in to the Atlas Mountains to Imili where we stayed one night in a very comfortable hostel, with beautiful views.
This was the challenge element of our expedition. The trek to base camp at 3,000m was hard but getting up at 4am, after sleeping in tents on stony ground, to climb the last leg of the 4,167m initially in the dark, was even more so. Nevertheless, we did it and the views from the summit were amazing. The ground did not seem quite as uncomfortable the second night as we were all so pleased with ourselves knowing what we had achieved. Back to Imili for one more night, and more excellent food at the hostel, and then a short drive to Marrakech the following day for a day of sight-seeing before flying home.
For anyone looking for a once in a lifetime educational adventure for their school, I would certainly recommend a World Challenge expedition! It was certainly difficult at times: the heat, the physical effort and the fact that we were all together 24/7, but the memories and the sense of achievement will stay with all forever.
Back in the Classroom
Paulin said that the links to the academic curriculum are evident from the planning stage through to the expedition: History, Geography, Mathematics and in this case, French, whilst the enrichment of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education is huge.