9th June 2000 at 01:00
These three comprehensives co-own an outdoor pursuits centre in Tirabad, Powys, in the heart of Wales. This year, six sixth-formers from each of the schools raised pound;6,000 to take 18 pupils with special needs from Addington special school, Reading, for a week of adventure activities there.

They took part in archery, canoeing, caving, pony-trekking, survival skills and gorge and waterfall-walking. Each Addington pupil was supported by a sixth-former who encouraged and inspired confidence in his or her "buddy". A farm visit, a bin bag fashion show, karaoke and a disco added to the community spirit. Paula Hadley, deputy head of Emmbrook sixth form, says: "They have learnt that life is more than just high academic achievement. It is also about sharing, supporting the less able and reaping rewards of other sorts. Several students are now considering careers in occupational therapy, paediatric physiotherapy or teaching pupils with special needs." Jane McDevitt, one of the Addington teachers, says her pupils tackled activities they had never thought possible - and indeed that wouldn't have ben possible - without the "buddying" system. Paula Hadley says the teachers were able to sit back and watch the two groups learn from each other. Addresses were swapped on the way home and arrangements made to meet again. The sixth-formers agree it was a worthwhile trip. Tom Fasham, of Maiden Erlegh, says: "The children had smiles that seemed to double every day."

Snaps by the staff.

A week in the life of the Emmbrook, Charters and Maiden Erlegh schools, Berkshire

Splashing out on a trip to remember

After a day of adventure activities the washing up still has to be done.

From left, Wayne Hall-Pritchard, Lindsey Learmont, Helen Cunningham, Klara Paulus, Adam Jacobs and Matt Suckling

The bin bag bridal fashion show with, from left, Clare Dunbar, Maria Deane, Jake Mant, James Hopgood and Donna Thompson

Cavers Sebastian Weaver, left, and Thomas Beale stick together

A clean sweep: Andrew Nalty keeps the centre spick and span

Eat hay while the sun shines. Daniel Wood on top of the situation

Taking to the outdoor life like ducks to water

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