Character education in the mountains of Snowdonia
Snowdonia’s sheer cliff faces and breath-taking river gorges were commendably conquered by a group of students during the final week of Spring term. Staff from Ormiston Park Academy (OPA) took 15 Year 8 boys to Ormiston Forge in Dynas Mawddwy, North Wales, for a week of character development with the aim of nurturing the attributes and behaviours that underpin success in education and work.
The residential trip was designed to build students’ resilience when faced with challenges and encourage them to reflect on how positive attitude and behaviour impacts learning. Activities included a nail-biting night time trek of the aptly named ‘Precipice Walk’ and a challenging hike up and around the hills of Mount Snowdon. Students had to exercise self-motivation and perseverance, rising to the challenge the demanding landscape presented, which for many was far out of their comfort zones.
The boys showed impressive determination and confidence as they climbed cliff faces and wild river gorges. The latter allowed for enthusiastic acts of spiritual expression as the students were encouraged to exalt warrior-like cries to the proclaimed God of nature ‘Yami, Yami, Yami’ before plunging their faces into the freezing river. This exhilarating act quickly acclimatised the students to the environment and encouraged them to be ‘at-one-with-nature’ which aided the moments of meditation which were to follow. They lay in running water listening to the sounds of nature, with the aim of promoting respect for each other and the environment.
The rewards reaped by students from the trip were considerable. Staff were able to stand back and watch students working together, keeping each other safe and checking one another’s behaviour. As a direct result some of the students have already begun to display improved positivity around the academy, suggesting they have gained insight into the importance of being more tolerant to the demands placed on them whilst in school
‘Character Education’ is encouraged and developed alongside academic rigour through a variety of programmes in schools and colleges across the country. Character education aims to allow pupils to emerge from education better equipped to thrive in modern Britain. Ormiston Park is proud to be able to facilitate such engaging activities in which to promote this aspect of education