Worcester Evening News
Headteacher backs plans to encourage pupils to climb trees
By Ryan Merrifield
Worcester King’s School Hawford head Jim Turner said pupils are often “wrapped in cotton wool” while such outdoor pursuits as tree climbing will help “develop resilience”.
Last week, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said he plans to publish a ‘bucket list’ of life goals for pupils to achieve before they leave primary school.
In a marked departure from predecessor Michael Gove’s policies, Mr Hinds wants schools to view character and resilience as important as exam results and qualifications.
Various activities will be ticked off as children progress through their time at primary school, including building rockets, watching the sunrise and camping out.
While other ideas include putting on a performance, learning to knit and starting a vegetable patch.
Speaking to the Worcester News, Mr Turner said: “We believe that children need to develop resilience and determination.
“Climbing trees is about assessing risk and knowing your limits."
“Children are, quite often, wrapped in cotton wool and it is therefore important that they learn to overcome challenges,” he added.
King’s Hawford, based in Claines, is one of 35 schools in the country to have a Gold Award for Learning Outside the Classroom and the head said his pupils are therefore already used to experiencing outdoor challenges.
“Whether it be setting off in the katakanus down the canal, putting on wet gear on rainy days to learn in Forest School or camping overnight in the grounds, the children have learned to take these challenges in their stride,” he said.
Mr Hinds feels too much screen time and a sedentary lifestyle is causing problems for children today.
“Bluntly, it is about doing stuff that doesn’t involve looking at a screen. It’s about getting out and about,” the Education Secretary told the i newspaper.
“We put a lot effort into making sure we can share really good curriculum plans and teaching materials.
“This is an equivalent of that for stuff outside the curriculum in recognition of the fact that what you do academically is only part of the story,” he added.
The bucket list idea was inspired by a visit the Cabinet made to St Weburgh’s Primary School in Bristol which has introduced a ‘passport’ of enrichment activities – which itself was based on the National Trust’s 50 Things to do Before You’re 11¾.
Former education secretary Mr Gove ushered in a regime of tougher exams and a more demanding curriculum but his successor has a different approach.
“Qualifications are obviously not the only thing, and I tend to think the difference is everything you can’t write on a certificate – drive, tenacity, sticking with the task at hand,” said Mr Hinds. “And being able to bounce back from the knocks that inevitably come to all of us.”