Wild Monkton

In 2019 Monkton introduced the Wild Monkton initiative to help shape the future of our pupils with the knowledge that being and learning outdoors is good for them.

Since then we have embraced the opportunities that being situated on the edge of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty allows us to offer our pupils.

Research shows that time spent outdoors has cognitive gains for pupils and increases their levels of motivation and achievement. It increases skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, decision-making and creativity and is particularly beneficial to those with ADHD - 20 minutes outside has been found to significantly improve the ability to concentrate.

There are also many improved health and wellbeing aspects to this project - spending time outdoors can help reduce levels of stress hormones, restore attention after the mental fatigue of concentrating on school work, reduce obesity, improve life satisfaction and lift low mood.

Lastly, we want to instill in our young people a desire to care for our world - we want to develop young adults who will in their lifestyle and commitments, consciously take action to protect the environment. Increased ‘Connectedness with Nature’ has been shown to lead to pro-environmental choices (such as turning lights off, picking up litter) and pro-nature choices (e.g. feeding the birds), in a way that merely learning about it theoretically in class does not.

So we aim to develop our plans through 4 areas of development:

We want our students to thrive (improving wellbeing in our students and staff through exposure to the outdoor environment) to learn (increasing knowledge and understanding of our natural setting and improving life skills) to conserve (stewarding the Monkton estate to enhance the landscape, habitats and biodiversity) and to share (being generous in allowing others to benefit from our setting).

The pupils live out these objectives through a programme which includes Environment Education, Adventure Education, the Duke of Edinburgh Award and our Combined Cadet Force (CCF).

Environment Education

Accessing the natural environment with a sense of purpose is intrinsic to the many benefits that we gain from being connected to nature. Students will take part in outdoor activities as part of the Enrichment Carousel in Year 12 and during our whole school Wild Monkton Days. This will include conservation, habitat development, and building outdoor infrastructure such as a wetland boardwalk or an otter holt. 

Being in nature also facilitates our students to be more environmentally conscious, enabling an attitude and motivation to pursue a lifestyle that is more aware of issues such as climate change and the impact that this is having on the natural environment. We assist students with thinking this through and taking action with a number of activities and talks organised by the Sustainability Committee.

Adventure Education

Adventure by definition has an unknown outcome. When you look back over your life so far, I imagine there will be some standout moments, often with an unanticipated twist somewhere along the way. Adventure Education affords each pupil the chance to try something new, push themself in ways they may have never considered. Every pupil will be challenged to step up and out as they are encouraged to adventure throughout their education here at Monkton. This may be up a mountain, out at sea, down the river, climbing a rock face, biking, horse riding, lighting fires, building a shelter, whittling or trying some new bushcraft food. Adventure awaits… where will it take you..

Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award

During Year 9 all pupils have the opportunity to take on the Bronze award. This involves two challenging expeditions to the Mendip Hills and the South Cotswolds. Those who wish to can then go on to the Gold award as soon as they turn 16. This involves a 4 day expedition to the Brecon Beacons in year 11, followed by an expedition to Dartmoor and then finally the assessed expedition in Snowdonia at the end of Year 12.

As well as taking part in expeditions to develop self reliance and perseverance in the outdoors, the Award scheme encourages young people to learn new skills, take part in a physical activity and volunteer in the local community. Pupils have taught Sunday School, raised funds for charity, helped with first aid at school events and done odd jobs for older members of the village community as part of their volunteering.

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Combined Cadet Force (CCF)

Monkton is one of the few schools to operate a full Combined Cadet Force. From year 10 onwards our pupils are able to join the Army, Navy or RAF sections and can choose to join our REME section in Year 11.

The CCF aims to develop responsibility, resilience, discipline, courage, adventure, teamwork, independence and leadership through a mixture of military and non-military activities. Each section will participate in two field days during the year: we aim to get off-site, often to military bases or training areas, to put training into practice in the field. There are annual training camps for all three sections which also offer outdoor activities such as shooting, orienteering, rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing, gliding, flying, hiking, night exercises and RYA sailing courses at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

The CCF offers many opportunities to gain external qualifications in these areas through camps and courses that are run by the RN or through Cadet Adventure at Capel Curig throughout the year.

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