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Instructors start new qualification with weekend of challenges

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Instructors training with the Department of Education and Children’s Adventure Education team started working towards a qualification with a challenging weekend in the Lake District.

Assistant instructors Aimee McGarry, Michaela Robinson, Scott Christian and Joseph Callister, who are spending a year working at Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre at West Baldwin – a scheme sponsored by Britannia International – are studying with the National Open College Network (NOCN) for a level three qualification in Understanding Outdoor Education.

They were joined by trainee instructors Josh Rowlands and Lucy Connors, who were on the assistant instructor course in 2010/11 and have taken on more responsibility with Adventure Education as a result.

The NOCN allows flexible study in all sorts of subjects and the DEC’s Youth Service (which Adventure Education is part of) is an accredited NOCN centre.

Over the weekend, the group participated in classroom sessions and activities such as climbing to the summit of Helvellyn, kayaking the River Eden and canoeing the River Leven.

The assistant instructors have already developed skills in first aid, lifesaving, powerboating, sailing, archery and paddlesports.

The NOCN course will allow the assistant and trainee instructors to better understand their role and improve the experience for the young people they will be working with.

Finding out how outdoor skills link with the school curriculum, eg geography, maths and history, was one of the aspects covered.

The trip to the Lakes was led by Paul Melling, Head of Outdoor Centres with Adventure Education, but the young trainees experienced differing coaching styles, including those of Richard Ensoll, Senior Lecturer at Cumbria University and technical adviser to Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre, who led the canoeing.

All the participants said they had learned something about themselves, overcome personal obstacles and made a good start to the NONC course, which will take them six months to complete and will culminate in them organising the annual Adventure Education weeks in August during the school holidays.

Aimee said:

‘It was a great weekend with great people and I’m really looking forward to doing the rest of the course.’ Lucy commented: ‘The weekend was very enjoyable and it was very interesting to explore the many ways in which outdoor activities can complement the curriculum.’ Scott added: ‘People have different ways of learning and I have recognised that it is important to take this into account, both as a student and a coach.’ Josh said: ‘On the Isle of Man I was challenged as a beginner but as I have pursued my interest in the outdoors, I have had to search further afield to challenge myself in different ways. The weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to further my interest in the academic side of the outdoors and allowed me access to environments that we do not have on the Isle of Man.’

Ardwhallan hosts tailor-made sessions for primary and secondary school parties and runs on and off-Island, out-of-hours, courses and expeditions for students in Year 9 and above. Activities include sailing, paddlesports and climbing. A full list of what’s on offer is available via or via the facebook group Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre.

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