Outdoor Education, like all experiential education, is based on the philosophy that individuals learn best through direct experience. The problems and projects that rise out of working and learning through the outdoors engages you in the use of effective communication, leadership, practical reasoning, problem solving, teamwork and risk management. To achieve this, we deliver a wide range of activities for all years.
As soon as pupils start at the school, they are invited to have an outdoor learning bush craft experience, where they practice and hone life skills such as shelter building and fire lighting in Y7. This bush craft experience is repeated in Y9 with more complex skills added such as traps and pioneering skills. These start of year activities really help to bind the pupils together in their new house groups.
Berkhamsted School has a long history of DofE with some of the first ever DofE Gold awards presented to Berkhamsted school students at the beginning of the award. This strong tradition runs through the school with the Bronze awards taken by Y9, Silver award at Y10 and the Gold award running through the 6th Form. As a school we can often see around 500 pupils actively pursuing the award during the year. Expeditions are offered locally at Bronze, to the Peak district at Silver and by the time pupils get to gold options are available for expeditions in the Lake District, Black Mountains, Brecon Beacons as well as the extremely popular Sea Kayaking expedition to Poole and Croatia. Each year we celebrate the success of student in the award in assembly for Y9 and Y10 and in a special Gold awards dinner for the 6th Form.
We are always pleased to be able to develop pupils throughout their experience at the school. A huge highlight in the calander is taking Y8 pupils to Snowdonia. This beautiful national park is seen as a capital of adventure in the UK, our pupils climb Snowdon, scramble up Tryfan, abseil, and gorge walk while on this trip. A no phones policy allows pupils to enjoy the outdoor spaces provided with many pupils relaxing by the open fire in the evening or playing in the grounds of the accommodation. This is often seen as the best trip by staff and pupils and is a huge highlight to the year.
While back at school in Y9-13 pupils can opt for an Outdoor education games option offering high ropes including, five climbing walls, a vertical challenge course, crate stack, leap of faith, head rush, tree-top journeying course and a zip wire gives you the chance to test your own self-confidence, team work and communication skills all whilst balancing metres above the ground! High ropes sessions run during games and after school for house or team building social events. We also offer mountain biking in the local area as part of our games option. The Ashridge Estate and Chiltern Hills provide endless opportunities to develop your core mountain biking skills, such as agility, balance and coordination.
Clubs and Trips
Each year the school runs a Ski trip to Italy where we head to the slopes for the beautiful power and exhilarating skiing.
Two main clubs run to support adventures, the climbing club meets weekly with trips run on crags in the UK and abroard at locations like Swanage, Stanage, Spain and Croatia, the club has proven so popular we have had to offerd two nights to split the Y7 and Y8 climber and the Y9-Y13 to be able to offer as many students as possible places.
Further to this we have our own Padi dive master who runs the Padi open water diving courses throughout the year and offer Diving trip internationally.
‘Be adventurous’ is more then just a slogan at the school from beginning to end students are encoraged to live, and breath an adventure spirit.