Snapshots

A week in the life of Queen Katherine school, Kendal, Cumbria.

Aformer Merchant Navy training base in Anglesey provided the perfect setting for a spell-binding week of adventure for 180 Year 7 pupils.

The Conway residential centre offers extensive facilities for testing young minds and bodies to the limit. Canooing, raft-building, ropes, a high-level zip wire, abseiling and many more activities are designed to give pupils a life-changing experience.

Year 7 tutor and head of design and technology Kevin Bell says the idea was to take children out of their "comfort zone". Activities are seen as a series of concentric circles of increasingly challenging situations. By mastering each successive circle, pupils grow in confidence before returning to an expanded zone of comfort.

As well as the outdoor activities, pupils split up into groups to produce theatrical productions based on Welsh mythology, and took part in what the centre calls "outdoor business". This involves a range of problem-solving activities that force children to work as teams, listening to other people's point of view and coming to co-operative decisions on the best way forward.

The main slogan for the week was "I can't but we can". Mr Bell says: "It sounds corny, but it's true." The school took away a group of young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and brought back a confident, bonded team.

He says there were no worksheets and no academic structure, but the week had a huge payoff back at school."There's been a massive transformation in their attitudes - to each other and to staff." Pure magic.

Rung with it: on the way to the zip-wire.

Stage flight: the final night's performance infull flow.

There be dragons: plays were based on Welsh mythology

Quay stage: ready to hit the water.

Drum kit: pupils learn how to make a raft.

Hats off to them: the pre-play medieval banquet.

It works! The rafts live up to expectations.

Rise to the challenge: the climbing wall

Snaps by Keith Barber.

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