Rydal Penrhos School has a long running history of Outdoor Education, thanks in part to the School’s location close to the Snowdonia National Park, as well as its walking distance from the sea.
In September 2011, Mr Proudlove, who studied the subject at University, was appointed Outdoor Education Co-ordinator, responsible for the organisation of the weekly programme and primary manger of the Rydal Penrhos Duke of Edinburgh Operating Authority. Mr Proudlove is supported by highly experienced staff including technical directors Mark Hedge (Mountaineering Instructor Certificate) and Darren Williams (Mountaineering Instructor Award) of Eryri Mountaineering as well as Dr Roberts, Mr Baxter, Ms Margerison, Miss Hearn, Mr Bathie and qualified freelance staff.
A wide range of activities are available as part of the Outdoor Education programme including:
These sessions step away from the conventional activity approach to Outdoor Education and are offered to Year 7 and 8 pupils to complement their Geography and Biology lessons. It teaches pupils about life on the surface of the Earth, outside of the classroom, utilising suitable venues.
Canoeing and Kayaking
This activity takes place in the school pool during the weekly programme in order to establish sound skill levels before tackling venues such as Llyn Geirionydd and the Menai Straits or the famous white water of the area. There is a Kayak club help every Friday night organised by Dr Roberts, who is a Level 2 BCU Canoe and Kayak Coach. Mr Baxter and highly qualified external coaches support him in this area. Different paddling techniques are taught as well as white water swimming and rescue skills to ensure the safety of all pupils. For keen kayakers the School runs an annual kayaking week in Slovenia, where the pupils can tackle the rapids of the river Soca.
Climbing and Bouldering
We take pupils to climb both at indoor walls and in the great outdoors, making the most of our superb location. Pupils climb indoors at Indefatigable Climbing Wall, the Beacon and Plas-Y-Brenin (The National Mountaineering Centre) and outdoors at a wide range of single pitch crags offering top-roping, countless sport venues along the A55 for sport climbing and the plethora of bouldering locations to boulder such as Angel Bay (famed also for seal spotting!) or the RAC boulders.
Cycling – Road, BMX and Mountain
Pupils visit Marsh Tracks in Rhyl to train on the road and BMX course as part of the weekly Outdoor Education programme. Beyond this we are able to travel to locations in and around the local area in search of some adventure on wheels. We take keen riders racing, with some talented pupils enjoying great success in races. There are opportunities to try mountain biking both through the weekend and end of year activities programme where groups are taken out into Snowdonia.
Duke of Edinburgh
Since it began in 1956, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has been dedicated to the personal development of young people from all backgrounds and is a real adventure from beginning to end. To begin the Award, pupils must be aged between 14 and 24 and realise there’s more to life than sitting on a sofa watching life pass by. The programmed can be completed at three levels, Bronze, Silver or Gold. The Award is achieved by completing a personal programme of activities in four sections (five if you’re going for Gold). You’ll find yourself helping people or the community, getting fitter, developing skills, going on an expedition and taking part in a residential activity (Gold only). The programme can be full of activities and projects that get each pupil excited, while meeting new friends and learning new skills along the way. Mr Proudlove organises the Award and Miss Margerison is involved in training expedition participants. There is a ‘Drop-in Clinic’ held during Friday lunchtime for pupils in Year 9 and above to attend to discuss their Award, as-well as time dedicated as part of the OE programme for training.
As part of the programme in Year 9 pupils take part in mountain journeys involving rope techniques such as confidence roping and classic abseiling, coasteering, gorge walking, use of Tyrolean traverses and mine journeys, whilst also focusing on the historic and environmental aspects of the locations we use.
Rydal Penrhos School is a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) accredited training centre. Due to our close proximity to the sea, we are one of very few schools who are able to teach sailing as part of the school curriculum. Pupils from as young as eight are encouraged to try sailing and the School has achieved great success in both junior and senior sailing competitions, with some pupils going on to train in Olympic squads. Miss Hearn is the Head of Sailing and is a qualified Senior Dinghy Instructor.
Skiing is a hugely popular sport at the School and part of the curriculum for Years 7 and 8. The School is lucky enough to be located fifteen minutes away from Llandudno’s outdoor dry ski slope and less than an hour away from the training centre in Snowdonia, at Plas-y-Brenin. Throughout the year there are opportunities for pupils to enter competitive ski races, as well as going on the School Ski Trip, which takes place early in each New Year.
Walking, Orienteering and Navigation
Orienteering and navigation exercises on foot give our pupils another opportunity to get out into the countryside to develop problem solving skills. We use various courses from Eirias Park and Conwy locally moving to more complex courses at Nant Bwlch y Hearn and Llyn Padarn. There is a cross curricula link between map work in Geography and endurance exercise in Physical Education, placing great emphasis on team work.
The department believes strongly that direct experience outside of the classroom stimulates and reinforces learning, while also encouraging young people to take greater responsibility for their own learning, increasing self confidence, developing communication and problem solving skills and creating a positive can-do attitude.