Pupils from Portree High School and Lochaber High School benefit from the latest courses delivered by The Outward Bound Trust - MOWI - Scotland

Pupils from Portree High School and Lochaber High School benefit from the latest courses delivered by The Outward Bound Trust

During the autumn, The Outward Bound Trust led pupils from Portree High School and Lochaber High School through a series of outdoor activities designed to challenge them, build resilience and help them to believe in themselves. Many young people were deeply affected by the pandemic, especially because of the social isolation they experienced. The courses were therefore welcomed by pupils and teachers alike and all the young people who took part showed real commitment and determination to succeed.

Portree High School

Mowi has supported The Outward Bound Trust for over ten years and Portree High School has benefited from courses organised by the charity since 2015, with nearly 200 pupils from the school participating in activities. Typically, pupils would visit Outward Bound’s Loch Eil centre for a week-long outdoor learning and adventure residential course. Residential courses were prohibited due to COVID-19 and The Outward Bound Trust found new ways to work with young people, ensuring they continued to receive support when they needed it most.

The Outward Bound Trust sent instructors to deliver outdoor non-residential courses close to the schools. The seven-week programme was designed to give every new S3 pupil a four-day programme of outdoor education and deliver the John Muir Award.

The course included a mixture of activities in the areas local to the school including team games, nature walks, fire starting, toasting marshmallows on a local stone beach, a coastal path walk, a hill day on Ben Tianavaig and a beach cook-out with fires and hot dogs. One of the courses was also delivered solely in Gaelic.

Here is just some of the feedback from the young people and teaching staff who took part in the courses.

Wilma McRuary, teacher at Portree High School:

Pupils [were] willing to speak out within the group, offer their own suggestions when problem solving. Talk about themselves and their surroundings, talk about own strengths and weaknesses.

“[Young people will have] better relationships within the group. Tolerance of differing skills/abilities, information about their behaviour influencing their future options, information on ‘outdoor’ careers, meeting challenges more positively.

All participants had a great opportunity to take part in a variety of activities. All pupils should get this opportunity – without funding no pupils would get this opportunity – thank you!”

Pupils from Portree High School:

“I enjoyed this course because it pushed me, and I now know if I push myself, I will be able to do it.”

I learnt that when you’re in a hard situation it’s better to listen to everyone’s ideas, than just your own.”

“[A challenge I overcame was] talking to people more. [I overcame it] by slowly starting to listen to other people and knowing them a bit more. I felt happy knowing I can talk to different people more!”

Tony Breen, Headteacher at Portree High School, was grateful to Mowi for this opportunity for his pupils and witnessed first-hand, the positive impact of the course:

“I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all the team who contributed to our local Outward Bound weeks, which our pupils thoroughly enjoyed, despite some of the severe autumn weather. I’m so glad we decided to go ahead with this – our pupils really needed a wee boost after those last 18 months, and this fitted the bill. Despite initial reluctance…once they were outside, every single one of them enjoyed themselves, learnt a lot and developed resilience. Please pass on our thanks.”

Lochaber High School

Isobel Mackenzie, Depute Head at Lochaber High School added: “It was fantastic to see pupils outwith the classroom, working with others that they wouldn’t normally be with.  Pupils who are quiet in the classroom thrived in a smaller group and I could see their confidence grow as the day progressed.

“Communication skills in their pairs were essential when canoeing as one was ‘the engine’ and the other ‘the rudder’. They also had to work as a larger group to check all the canoes were staying together which meant some of the stronger groups having to slow down and give tips to the others. Each pupil got fully involved in the activity and even went for a swim at the end of the day!

“The students were very well supported by the Outward Bound staff. It was very much a case of learning by doing, even if that involved failing first time round. The first couple of tasks made them feel at ease with each other, as in most cases they were not from the same peer group. Through the group activities at the centre and the climbing/rambling and rope activities in Glen Nevis, it was clear to see that team building strategies were being used by each of the students.

“By the end of the first day, they were looking out for each other and trying to achieve as a group, and not just as individuals. The students gained a great deal of confidence in trying out different things and by mixing and learning from other students who are not in their close peer groups. They improved their wider social skills, much needed after the past two years with limited mixing.”

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