Upland Primary School in Bexleyheath won last year’s ‘My Best School Trip’ Award. Headteacher Beth McKenzie reports back on what they did with the £1,500 prize money. 

Upland Primary School in Bexleyheath

Source: Upland Primary School

Children from Upland Primary School in Bexleyheath enjoy their residential at the Outward Bound Centre in Cumbria - a trip that won the ‘My Best School Trip’ Award in 2017.

The school has been working with the Outward Bound Trust for nearly five years as providers for the annual residential visits for Year 5 and 6.  As winners of 2017 Award, it only seemed right that we returned there this year. 

What the Outward Bound Trust is able to provide fits well with our school ethos and motto. The visits are built around the pupils’ needs and adapted as the days develop. I’m asked by parents about what the children will be doing. My response is that I don’t always know which makes it exciting. 

On 12th March, 55 children and five members of staff made the long but exciting train journey to the Lake District, the beginning of the adventure. Arriving at the centre, the children were faced with their first set of challenges (navigating around the centre and making their beds).  This is probably one of the few times that the children get a sense of freedom, they are not escorted or accompanied by staff and get that sense of working together with friends. 

Despite visiting in March, we had great weather which allows the children to get the very best out of the visit. As this was the children’s second year of visiting, one of the days and evenings was spent on an expedition.  The children left early and didn’t return until 9pm. Although tiring, this is probably one of the highlights for the children; they walk an average of 10 miles and might have to canoe across Lake Ullswater and climb some very steep mountains but that sense of achievement for all is overwhelming. 

Watching the children develop over the week is a delight. As each day goes by they approach new activities with more confidence.  Watching them working as a team and providing support to each other, when things are tough, shows how skilled they are. 

Gorge-walking experience

One of my most memorable experiences was accompanying a group gorge-walking. The children must have spent three hours in extremely cold water. They started off at a relatively low part of the gorge and through sheer determination, skill and teamwork they managed to scramble through multiple gorges and reach quite a height.  After about three quarters of the way, the children had the choice to finish for the day, return to the warm, or carry on.  They knew that it had to be a group a decision and agreed that they would support the others through the difficult climb.  Watching the children provide words of encouragement and physical support to each other was a joy. 

Organising the trip

A trip like this takes an awful lot of organisation.  I realise that it can be a daunting experience for parents too, so time is spent providing them with all the information they need. Regardless of how much time it takes, this has to be the biggest highlight of my year.  So many memories are made on a trip like this and the children gain so much from the experience. As Headteacher, to accompany the children and see them develop validates how worthwhile the trip is.  A residential is such an experience for the pupils – if it’s the right one.  This week is an essential part of our curriculum and I hope that it is something that we can provide for many years. 

Student comments

“I overcame fears and accomplished things that I didn’t think I could. I climbed a 735-metre mountain!” Millie 

 “My Outward Bound Year 6 experience was the best I have had! My favourite activities were gorge-walking and mountain climbing.”  Theo 

Teacher comments

“Watching the children develop individually and as a team is a real privilege.”

Joanna Hemmings, Year 6 Teacher 

“What an opportunity for the children, they didn’t stop all week – a great time had by all.”

Jason Bevan, Teacher