We are very excited to reveal that as of September 2016 we will be working in partnership with Cornerstones, a company which is dedicated to providing schools with engaging, interactive and exciting topic based curriculum related projects. We have developed a fantastic and diverse range of stimulating and enchanting outdoor education workshops related to specific topic based projects, all designed to capture children’s imaginations, within a contextualised approach.
What’s more is that we have ensured that we have something for everyone, therefore our workshops relate to topics undertaken from year 1 all the way through to year 6, allowing all children to access exciting outdoor education opportunities, whilst relating wholly to the topic and curriculum subject being taught.
Although being a standalone, independent Outdoor Centre, we are small but mighty and are lucky enough to have a qualified teacher on board with us, therefore we are able to tap into the knowledge and experience of what teachers would like achieved from an Outdoor Education workshop. For this reason, the provisions we offer are all out of the classroom, hands on, engaging, inspiring and motivating experiences designed to prompt questions, queries and an interest and need to find out more, therefore leading to more in class learning, perfect for launching a new topic or re-engaging and sparking children’s imagination mid topic.
Not only that but we understand it is not always possible to travel offsite due to funding, therefore all of our Outdoor Education workshops have been designed to be undertaken on school grounds or in nearby, walkable locations, enabling us to offer affordable outdoor education opportunities for all children. Our workshops also have a full day or half day option, further enabling flexibly in time, cost and class sizes.
For a closer look at the fantastic variety of Outdoor Education workshops and opportunities we offer for schools, please look on our website for more information.
The Stag and Hen party has become something that every bride or groom looks forward too! Its and important aspect of the wedding to get right, and the choice and range of what’s on offer is mind boggling..
In 2016 we are offering a series of new packages, all of which are designed to give an amazing and adventurous experience. We have a range of offerings to cater for different requirements, such as group size, budget and time available.
We have split the new packages into two distinct sections, day activities and overnight weekend activities. The day activities are ideal for those wanting a day of fun and adventure with their friends and family but want to head home at the end of it or head onto to other things, the day packages also offer fantastic value for money, starting at just £20 per person.
For those wanting an experience to last a little longer we have also developed some overnight packages, these are perfect for people wanting a complete package. The packages include activities, a meal in an award winning restaurant renowned for its selection of real ales, a night’s accommodation in our centre and cooked breakfast to get you ready for the day ahead. The packages also represent excellent value for money, starting at just £60pp.
However it’s the activities that we offer that make us so special; foremost among these is our gorge experience! This is unique to the Kingsway Centre, we are the only company running the Ashgill Swing! This is by far the highlight for any of the groups visiting the centre, the feeling of rushing through the air, splashing through a torrent of water and then emerging into thin air is an exhilarating experience for any anyone. The gorge experience doesn’t end there; you follow the gorge downstream, while on the way jumping into pools and sliding down slick waterfalls, you then find yourself at the final challenge, a step out into a void and a 4 metre drop into what seems like a dark and bottomless pool! It’s an amazing experience and everyone after is buzzing with excitement and adrenaline! It’s an experience like no other!
For those looking to do more than one activity we also offer rock climbing, canoeing, raft building and a survival challenge..
Happy New Year! Firstly.. we hope you all had a good one!
It’s been less than a week since the New Year and already we are getting very excited here about what 2016 has in store for the Kingsway Centre!
Looking back, and reflecting on 2015 it’s easy to see how the centre developed last year. Most importantly our summer season was the busiest to date, with more schools staying with us than ever before, and with the evolution of our activity offerings we saw an increase in overall enjoyment from the groups.
The residential school groups that make up the lion’s share of our work through the summer are at the heart of what we do, but last year saw us branch out into other areas of outdoor education.
Kingsway Training, the teacher training arm of the centre worked with schools up and down the North East as well as developing our relationships with some old and new Teacher Training providers. We developed a series of new workshops all of which were very well received, we were also able to hone our current offering to ensure that what we offer is unique and exciting for the schools we visit.
Last year also saw the popularity of our school day programmes increase dramatically, with schools bringing us in to provide bushcraft and survival skills on their school grounds, some for a few hours, and some for a whole week! We also started to offer these days with historical themes, chief among them was our Stone Age days, these saw us visiting a range of schools and running sessions designed to teach the children about how are ancestors used bushcraft to survive and thrive.
While our list of schools, colleges and self catering groups using us increased we also began to renovate the centre, the bulk of this happened through the Autumn and Winter. Firstly we saw the need for a new and improved drying room, we developed the old workshop into a new and more efficient drying room, this will allow wet clothes and equipment to dry much quicker! At the forefront of our renovation was always going to be the roof, for many years we had struggled to maintain the huge expanse of felt covering the South side of the centre, last year finally saw the planning permission be confirmed to replace the felt with a modern steel roof. December saw this come into fruition, over the course of a wet and cold week in December the team battled hard to replace the roof. Two skip loads of felt and three very long days saw the roof virtually completed. With the new roof installed we were finally able to install our new log burner into the dining room, ensuring a cosy and warm atmosphere is maintained through the cold winter.
As 2015 came to a close we can look forward to what will hopefully be an even more exciting year
To start with over the next few months we will have what will undoubtedly prove to be our busiest winter, with weekends booked out with self catering groups and our week days busy with schools and renovation work we are certainly going to be kept occupied.
Renovation will certainly be top of the agenda over the coming months, the new roof guarantees that any work we do in that side of the building won’t be damaged by water leaks and so its full steam ahead!
The other thing that makes 2016 exciting is that we as a centre/provider are starting to find our niche, it’s a difficult marketplace to operate in, and this is highlighted regularly by the closure of centres and providers alike. However what keeps us going and thriving is our constant adoption of new ideas while improving what we already offer. This year is no different, we intend to become a DofE Approved Activity Provider by September, this will allow us to offer expeditions and residential opportunities for young people from across the UK. It’s an important milestone and the abilities to market our offering will be a challenge we will have to face.
The other push we intend to make this year is into experience and family days, we’ve tried before and had success with the High Ropes Course, however this year we want to take it to a new level! As our understanding of marketing grows we aim to offer a series of experience days to people both local and on holiday, these experience days will offer activities such as, Gorge Walking, Rock Climbing and much more and will aim to start to put Teesdale on the map as an exciting place to visit for outdoor activities.
The final exciting changes coming to the center will be the evolution of our staff team, we will be taking on a new full time Assistant Manager, who’s role will be do develop specific aspects of the business as well as helping me with the day to day running of the centre.
And finally it’s an exciting year for Adam, the centres owner who will spend vast swathes of the year sailing around Northern Europe, determined to spend as much time on the water as possible.
All in all its going to be a bright and exciting year for us here!
We hope to see you all soon,
Rob, Adam and the Kingsway Team
As a small outdoor education provider in County Durham we have to look at our centre and work out what we can offer that works for schools. The Outdoor Education Industry is a changing scene, small independent and LEA centres are on the decline, and in their place are much bigger corporate centres, our ability to highlight what makes us different is a key part of remaining competitive with all these big fish!
Often when I speak to teachers or parents I talk about what makes us different, and what we feel makes us special, and that is vital, the difference between us and one of the much bigger centres is vast and can lead to a very different experience.
Firstly and what we feel is the most important aspect, is size, for many centre's the bigger the centre the more children they can cram in and the more money they can make. We take a different approach, we only take one school at a time, exclusive use. This translates into schools getting an experience entirely dedicated to them, to fit their kids needs. Instead of having to get back from session to fit into a strict lunch rota, if the weather is good and the group are loving their activity the instructors will make it last as long as possible, or if a member of the group has been to nervous to try until the last minute we will make time for them.
What else makes this exclusive use policy so important is that fact that we want the children to be confident, this can be achieved by being supported and surrounded by their peers, and instructors they trust, this can be lost if children are mixed with other schools, or if they see lots of different instructors. We try really hard to ensure that a relationship is built between instructors and groups, this can be achieved because the groups are small and the staff team is small, this ultimately leads to the group being able to benefit and thrive under the support and guidance of our great instructors.
One aspect of working in the outdoor industry is the constant change of staff, the seasonal nature of the majority of work leads to instructors moving from place to place, meaning every years centres are required to recruit a host of new staff. It is therefor telling that we seem to retain our staff year on year, this is important to us because we can be sure that the experience has continuity week on week, it means we can refine and perfect what we do.
Our centre's size and layout also increase our attractiveness to school groups too, being on one floor and with the whole centre being reasonably compact lends itself to small groups, being able to hear all the children from any part of the centre allows teachers to keep track on what they are up to, which comes in handy at bed time..
There are many more reasons why been small gives us something different to offer, in future posts we will outline what other aspects of Kingsway make us different.
Gorge walking, canyoning and gyhll scrambling are roughly the same thing, you find an atmospheric gorge with deep pools to jump, slides and huge waterfalls, you combine it with willing adventurers, some specialist equipment and experienced guides.... and there you have it, an amazing experience!
We are blessed to be within a short hop of one of UK’s most amazing gorges, Ash Gill. Heres an account to feed your imagination,
Just over the border in Cumbria you arrive at small lay-by next to a bridge, with no clue as to what to expect! It all becomes clear, as you cross the bridge all kitted up you can look over the edge and see a huge waterfall dropping below you, the river takes its course downstream, surrounded by precipitous cliffs and the evidence off mans struggle to extract metal from the earth! At this point, excitement and nerves begin to rear their head, you see one of the guides scramble over a wall and disappear and this fuels the intrigue.
You descend a winding path, the grouping buzzing with nervous excitement, you come round a corner and you see a huge waterfall, cascading over a cliff and onto the jagged rocks discarded at the bottom. As you traverse the gorge toward the waterfall you can see a cave has been hewn out of the rock face behind the falling water, you see one of your guides waiting for you, last time you saw him he was disappearing over a wall. As you get closer to the falling torrent you can see a rope dangling down, you skirt around the waterfall into the cave behind, the noise is deafening and the spray is soaking you. One of the guides starts to tell us what we are about to do, you concentrate on their words.. “you’re going to come up one at a time, we are going to clip you onto this rope, get it nice and tight and then you’re going to jump out into the void!”
There is a tangible silence, then a series of looks and nervous laughs give way to excitement and fear, as you step up for your go you feel the spray on your face, you step onto the spot and you are held from behind while one of the guides clips you on, the rope is tight, in fact you’re on your tiptoes! The guide steps away and begins a countdown... 3....2....1....go!
You swing forward and are immediately hit by the torrent of water, you’re soaked instantly! As you pass through the cascade and emerge into a void, a huge space below your feet. Then gravity catches you and swings you back through the falls, you’re soaked again. The guides have done this many times; they manage to swing you into the heaviest flow every time! You swing in and out a few times before one of the guides catches you and wrestles you back onto your feet... The adrenaline is pumping around your body, the water was cold but you don’t feel it. You watch your mates step up for their goes, and then the guide turns and says... “That was the introduction, the best is yet to come”.................
The gorge walk that we offer at the Kingsway is second to none! A perfect activity for Stag and Hen doo’s, Birthday Parties or just a group of friends wanting to have an incredible experience.
However with many of these qualifications it is not merely enough to pass the assessment, a successful candidate must show a continued effort to develop their own understanding and ability, whether that be, award body CPD workshops, in house training or merely a willingness to be taking part in that particular sport on regular basis. Passing your SPA (Climbing Award) and then not climbing for 20 years could well land you in a position where your qualification is invalid. So for us as an outdoor education centre employing staff, it is important for us to ensure that our instructors are given regular opportunities to develop their practice.
These CPD opportunities that we offer our staff are not however boring and tedious affairs, far from it they are exciting and engaging, and if our most recent outing is anything to go by it can make you truly appreciate how lucky we are to work in the outdoors.
On Wednesday we traveled to Borrowdale in the Lake District to give our newest staff member Rachel, an opportunity to climb at a new crag and learn some new techniques. We chose Shepherds Crag due to its easy access and variety of routes, we aimed to spend the day climbing and learning from one another. We arrived to glorious weather, blue skies and not a drop of wind, I have climbed at Shepherds dozens of times and it reveals something new every time. We split up and attempted two climbs of differing character. Heather, John Mac and Rachel set off on a route called Donkeys Ears, while myself and fellow instructor John Brooks climbed two routes called Ant Highway and Shepherds Chimney. We met at the top and discussed the routes and the style of ascent. After a brief lunch we moved to an area called Fishers Folly Buttress. I, John and Rachel attempted a route named Kransic Crack Direct while Heather and John Mac climbed a route called Chamonix, after some good and sometimes hard climbing we abseiled off and met Heather and John at the bottom, where we learnt Heather had forged a new bold route (unintentionally); a reminder that guidebook descriptions can sometimes require a fair bit of imagination.
All in all we had a cracking day and can look forward to more opportunities to take part in training.
Every year Primary Schools come from all over County Durham and beyond to experience an adventure like no other. We pride ourselves on building confidence and resolve amongst our young adventurers, and we have no doubts that they go home more confident, and with a sense of achievement like they may never have experienced before. Standing at the face of a cliff or looking down a waterfall, it is easy to doubt yourself, but with a little encouragement and some self belief it is amazing what these young people can do! I am surprised every week, and the victory is not about getting to the top or jumping off the highest waterfall, the victory is about learning to believe in yourself. For us one step off the ground is just as impressive as reaching the top!
Seeing that sense of achievement in the young person's eyes is incredibly rewarding. I will never tire of that.
My summer at Kingsway
My first summer working at Kingsway Adventure Centre turned out to be a summer that I will never forget. Moving away to an area where I didn’t know anyone and hadn’t visited before was something that I was rather nervous about at first, but upon my arrival at the centre, the staff where all extremely welcoming making me feel a bit more at home and within less than a week I was no longer nervous and being myself. The first two weeks were staff training where I was taught the ins and outs of every activity the centre provides. This was a big learning process for me as I was learning things which I had never been shown before, I wasn’t afraid to ask questions on areas which I was unfamiliar on and the staff at Kingsway took the time out to ensure that I was confident in performing and teaching the activities. It was in the first two weeks where I had the chance to take in every activity and at the same time gaining knowledge that will help in the future when I wish to gain qualifications such as my SPA.
The summer season which I worked is the busiest time for centre with schools coming in every week to take part in the activities. The majority of the school’s students where year 6 who had just finished their SATS and heading to different schools in September. For a lot of the students and teachers the trip away was a chance for them all to be together and create memories which will never be forgotten before they had to say goodbye. It was a pleasure to be a part of these memories, a part of my job here at Kingsway was to ensure that everyone involved had the best time and that everyone had accomplished something by the end of their stay. Although that part of my job was made easy as all the schools where so full of energy, including the teachers, and it was them that made every activity different no matter how many may have done it before. Whether it was the gorge walk or high ropes - canoeing and rock climbing each school brought in a different atmosphere which meant there was never a dull moment. With Kingsway only being a small centre compared to other outdoor centres in the UK, it meant that I was able to get to know each one of the students, knowing their strengths and weaknesses to try and encourage them to participate in something which they never thought they would be able to do. Although a lot of the students were able to accomplish certain activities prior to their friends in their class, I loved to see them encouraging each other to go on which for me was something I loved to see on a daily bases as well as the children working together as team.
What made my time here at Kingsway was the friendly atmosphere, all the staff became a sort of family which I believe is the most important part working in a centre like this. As I was able to enjoy the company of the staff and we were able to get involved as much as the children who participated which made their stay as well. I have loved every single second of my summer here so much that getting up to go to work has never been so easy. The food was incredible, the pod where I stayed was adorable and the activities which I have had the chance to be a part of has been truly amazing.
Author: IOL FE
Just 9% of youngsters have visited a countryside location in the past year
Nearly half of primary school children have never visited a working farm and one in 25 believes that farmers ‘grow mud’.
A new poll has revealed widespread ignorance of the countryside and origins of food.
One in six children is unaware that vegetables are grown on farms and a similar proportion is unsure where breakfast cereal comes from, even though most eat it every day.
The poll also shows that just 9 per cent of youngsters have visited a countryside location in the past 12 months.
Forty-three per cent – some 1.8million children – have never set foot on a working farm.
The survey suggested that children’s lack of knowledge of food production is affecting their eating habits.
Eight per cent of children told researchers that if they found a little bit of mud on an apple, they would simply throw it in the bin rather than wash it.
Few have ambitions to become farmers when they are older, with 1 per cent citing farming as a potential career, against 11 per cent saying teaching.
The findings are in line with previous surveys which have suggested an alarming belief in food myths among many children.
Research by the British Nutrition Foundation last year found that one in three primary pupils thinks cheese comes from plants and one in 10 says tomatoes grow underground.
An awareness of the origins of food is thought likely to help combat obesity and encourage healthy eating.
Figures from the national programme which involves weighing and measuring primary pupils show that 18.9 per cent of ten and 11-year-olsd are abuse and a further 14.4 per cent are overweight.
Among those aged four and five, 9.3 per cent are classed as obese and another 13 per as overweight.
The latest survey on food awareness was commissioned by cereals giant Kellogg’ s, which is to fund unbranded teaching aids to teach children about the origins of food.
It is being fronted by JB Gill, who was formerly in the band JLS but is now a farmer.
The teaching packs, developed by the National Schools Partnership, which produces educational resources, will include a short film about the ‘seed to spoon’ story of cereal.
Richard Burkinshaw, of Kellogg's, said: ‘It's really important children learn about the origins of their food from an early age.
‘That way they grow up knowing how food is made and understanding what a balanced diet consists of.’
Lynne Wood, of the National Schools Partnership, said: ‘We want to turn food education on its head by using children who are passionate about food to educate and inspire others.
‘They will become the stars of a short film shot on a farm, sharing the “seed to spoon” story of cereal with over 300 primary schools and thousands of children across the UK.’
- See more at: http://www.outdoor-learning.org/Default.aspx?tabid=118&Id=640#sthash.JoRbVDMo.dpuf
Its been a few weeks since the last post, Christmas and new year has been and gone and work in the centre ground to a halt while we stuffed ourselves with turkey.
However time to burn off that turkey and get to work. We've got a lot to do.
The last job before Christmas was to varnish and stain the floors, which we managed (see above). While I was on holiday the tiler came and tiled around the sinks, and he did a great job. We now have a week to fit the carpet in the corner where the sofas go, and to have a tidy and a hoover.
I'd like to say we are nearly there but alas we are not, with a list of jobs as long as my arm there is a lot to be getting on with.