Learning Outside the Classroom

Outdoor learning is an integral part of our curriculum at Truro School. Our three pillars of academic, co-curricular and pastoral have equal value; evident with the recent appointment of a third Deputy Head (Co-Curriculum & Partnerships)

While Truro School is a selective school to a point, our selection criteria go beyond the classroom and academic achievement. We have a broad range of abilities in our pupil cohort and every child is guided to find their passion and to reach their full potential.

With this in mind, our outdoor pursuits and co-curricular opportunities create more access points for pupils and students to achieve in a broad range of skill sets. There are no barriers to accessing these opportunities and they are open to all students.

Outdoor pursuits provide a valuable platform for learning skills that might not be so easily developed inside the classroom. In outdoor expeditions and excursions, our pupils are challenged personally and given a safe environment to fail and find ways to succeed. They are encouraged to develop new skills in teamwork. Children develop physically and mentally whilst taking in the beauty around them; they develop resilience and independence and grow in self-confidence.

Being in Cornwall, our children have a rare opportunity to experience their educational journey “in real life”, rather than through digital platforms. We have access to some of the UK’s best natural environments, from beaches and geographical formations to moorland, mining, farming and other outdoor pursuits and industries.

Our outdoor activities not only inspire students in the day-to-day but also prepare them for a range of careers and opportunities beyond school.

2.         What particular expeditions do you run at Truro School?

We have a wide range of departments and clubs structured around outdoor expeditions and experiences.

Our Outdoor Pursuits Department, overseen by our dedicated Outdoor Learning and Adventure Lead, is an integral part of Truro School.

Truro School is recognised as a centre of excellence in the South West for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Each year, well over a hundred of our pupils achieve their Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards. Without a doubt, the pinnacle of the Award is the Gold expedition to the Brecon Beacons, where Lower Sixth students undertake their expedition.

Younger pupils will have the opportunity to attend a day of team-building as a part of their first-year induction. They work together as a team to uncover their individual strengths and weaknesses, while getting to know their peers better.

Truro School has an enviable reputation in the Ten Tors Event; our proximity to the South West Coastal Path, Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor makes access to training easy as our pupils prepare for the event in May.

Truro School also takes part in the global challenges such as World Challenge or similar; our budding explorers have so far ventured to far-flung places including Ecuador, India and Morocco, and this summer heading to Borneo with STC

For our boarders, every weekend spells a chance to explore Cornwall and participate in outdoor activities such as Camel Trail cycle rides, exploring Poldu Cove, outdoor laser tag, quad biking, coasteering, horse riding and more. For our International Boarders, Cornwall offers a world of adventure and we encourage them to embrace as much as they can during their time at Truro School.

Truro School offers well over 100 co-curricular activities through our Wednesday Afternoon Activities and our after-school and lunchtime clubs, many of which are based in the outdoors. On-site outdoor activities include British Army Fitness, gardening club and a huge range of sports including hockey, football, rugby, tennis, and cricket. Our off-site excursions include golf, surfing, horse riding, BMX, skateboarding, sea angling, water sports, and sailing.

All of this combines to make sure that there is not a week or weekend that passes where our pupils are not outside enjoying the beautiful Cornish landscape or venturing further afield.

3.         How do you take advantage of your local environment?

Our setting in Truro gives us the benefit of being in a City but with immediate access to the coast, beaches, moorland and woodland of Cornwall.

Cornwall has a subtropical microclimate, which makes our region unique in the flora and fauna that can flourish. Truro School has good links with local conservational charities including the Eden Project and Cornwall Wildlife Trust which enable our pupils to access their resources and learning opportunities.

As a MIST School (Methodist Independent Schools Trust), our World AIMS Programme has also been structured to support local charities and industry including Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Not only does this bring a range of experts into our school, but it also creates opportunities for our students to become more involved in expeditions and activities hosted by these key Cornish charities.

Select mining landscapes across Cornwall have been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, placing Cornish mining heritage on a par with international treasures like Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China. Our well-established Truro School Alumni network, Truro School Connected, further helps to facilitate links with these sites and linked industries in the county. For example, we have strong links with Cornish company GeoScience via former pupil and Senior Geologist, Lucy Cotton.

Our Friends of Truro School (FTS) community also facilitates several outdoor events, including a recent beach clean at Watergate Bay.

Through our outdoor pursuits department, co-curricular activities and departmental trips, our pupils and students are given the opportunity to explore all that Cornwall has to offer. We have an outstanding Geology department and our other departments host frequent Art, English, Geography and Biology field trips to local places of interest including Cape Cornwall, Nettlecombe and Minehead and the Lizard Peninsula.

Our fleet of minibuses and excellent links to local industry and transport gives additional ways for our pupils to access Cornwall and further afield.

4.         Do you go further afield and can you give examples?

Here at Truro School, we are passionate about taking our pupils’ personal development global to get the most out of life experiences. Travel is exciting and creates a chance for adventure and for our pupils to broaden their horizons, develop self-confidence, strengthen existing skills and uncover new ones.

Our trip offering is broad; some of our trips are linked to academic subjects, others are cultural, and there are numerous sports and music tours.

So far this year, our pupils have ventured to Munich through MFL, Iceland through Geology, Portugal for surfing, tennis and rugby tours, Sistrier, Italy for skiing, London for Music, Drama and Art and Alicante for MFL.

We are looking forward to our France Music Tour in July and our Pre-Season Rugby Tour to Italy in August.

This year also sees the launch of an exciting new trip to Borneo; ‘Volunteering and Jungle Living’. With a varied itinerary, pupils will be able to trek in the rainforest, experience first-hand the impact of deforestation, take part in eco-camps and tree planting, visit a tropical island, go white water rafting and meet experts in the local ecology.

5.         Did Covid make a difference to what expeditions you mount now? More expensive to run? More concern from worried parents? Less adventurous children?

The impact of Covid meant that many of our on and off-site opportunities were limited, depriving our pupils of these broader experiences.

Two years on, the uptake of our clubs, trips and experiences is strong and we have looked to increase our provision in certain offerings, like our Bronze Duke of Edinburgh. This may be a consequence of the pandemic; a renewed vigour to live life to the fullest. Or perhaps it is a side-effect of our time in lockdown, where we were so heavily reliant on our natural world as a source of exercise, relaxation and well-being.

The cost of living has had an impact on so many aspects of our personal and academic life. As a school, we have seen an impact in terms of rising costs with trips, but demand and uptake do remain high.

We have always structured our co-curricular and extra-curricular activities so that they are accessible to all of our pupils. Any trips or clubs that aren’t included are available at various price points.

Certainly, our pupils appear to be more adventurous since Covid and appreciate their beautiful surroundings more. The Cornish countryside was there for us during Covid and I think everyone has a greater respect for our locality and how blessed we are to have the beautiful outdoors on our doorstep.

This quote from a parent regarding their pupil’s recent experience at BMX club sums up the power of clubs and activities for our pupils:

“[They] went off this morning full of trepidation about BMX… the reality of the strange-looking bike and the terrifying drops and bumps made [them] wobble even more on arrival! But when I picked [them] up this afternoon [they] told me how kind and supportive [the staff had] been. [Despite being] full of terror they did it anyway, and halfway through the session realised [they were] was actually enjoying [themselves]. I’m very proud of [them] for doing something so far out of [their] comfort zone, and it’s clearly a good life lesson that sometimes you feel the fear and do it anyway! What an exciting Wednesday afternoon!”