Winter-skills Report

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Last weekend the SOAP students were joined by three Dunbar Students for a Winter Skills weekend in the Cairngorms.

Based at Glenmore Lodge the group spent the weekend enjoying the last of this years white-stuff and learning some new winter skills. On the Saturday the group left the mini-bus at the top car-par in dismal wet conditions. After only walking for about 30 minutes up into Corrie Cas the weather improved and the group were able to practice moving (and stopping) on steep ground using their ice-axe. Next was up over the plateau for a spot of lunch in the snow-holes at Corrie Domhain.

After lunch the conditions varied between bright sunshine and complete white-out as the group navigated Cairn Lochan just on the edge of the nothern corries. Here again very poor visibility needed careful navigation with large cornices, and even larger drops! To complete the round a route west and north of the corries led back to the car-park. That evening the students were able to attend a Winter Navigation evening lecture by one of the Lodge’s instructors.

Sunday was a fairly slow start, all of the group were tired form Saturday’s fairly long day … and the hour-change. Despite this the group headed back up into the corries for a couple of hours practicing avalanche search and rescue using transceivers.

This has been the third residential weekend with the SOAP students , and it’s been great to see them becoming more confident and accomplished on the hill. Next trip away for them will be the Summer Expedition … which from general consensus the group would like to go out to explore some of mountains on the islands off the west coast.

Problem Solving Grab Bags

Have just recently delivered a few days of problem solving to a primary school and nursery. As fun as this delivery is it is obvious that it is not sustainable in the long term. (3 members of outdoor learning staff attempting to deliver to 35 educational establishments; community education; council staff and teachers staff development.)

In order to ensure that no child in East Lothian loses out on the opportunity to develop their problem solving skills in the outdoors we have put together a number of problem solving grab bags. These bags can be hired (free of charge) by any educational establishment in East Lothian. All the bags contain robust , simple to use, multiple use equipment that can be used to deliver problem solving to young people from nursery through to adulthood.

To go alongside these bags are training courses offered by your Outdoor Learning Service. Outdoor Learning Cards. This is a one-day (6 hour) practical course that provides teachers, and staff working with young people the resources and skills needed to deliver high quality and exciting outdoor learning activities in and around the school or Youth Club grounds. The activities are relevant at all levels and age groups and across curriculum subjects. The cost of the resource cards and CD is £75 per pack. There is no charge for the delivery of the course.

< The next scheduled training days for the Outdoor Learning Cards is the afternoon of 28th October and the afternoon of the 11th November 2011. To book on this training over two afternoons please get in touch with Keith Christie
If any establishment would like a training day organised for them alone then please get in touch direct with Martyn

Educational Excursion Forms – What do I do with them?

More and more Educational Excursion Forms (EEF’s) are being submitted by email which in principle is great but in practice we need to set out some guidance to ensure a smoother and more efficient process.

When submitting an EEF form, please adhere to the following:

1. Use the most up to date EEF form – can always be found here

2. Once the form is complete, make sure the form is signed by the Head Teacher/Service Manager or Excursion Coordinator if responsibilities have been delegated by the Head/Manager

3. Write all comments relating to the excursion on the EEF form (not in the email or fax cover sheet this may not get passed on)

4. If emailing, scan/save the form and other relevant documentation as a .pdf document (not a picture file e.g. .jpg or .tiff)

5. If emailing, One single .pdf document should contain all relevant information regarding an excursion (not multiple EEF’s in a single .pdf attachment)

6a. If the excursion contains an Adventurous Activity email the document to  (not Maree Johnston or Liz Brookes) or fax to 01620 827 456

6b. If the excursion does NOT contain an Adventurous Activity but is a Residential or Large Event email to  or fax to 01620 827 291

7. It is the responsibility of the visit organiser to ensure that the form is submitted with sufficient time to be processed.  Submitting the form six weeks in advance will ensure that any issues can be clarified and is essential for residential and nonstandard venues and activities.  Submission of forms less than two weeks before a visit can often result in the trip not being authorised.

8. The visit can only take place once the establishment has received conformation that the visit has been approved (the EEF form will be returned signed for approval or not)

The approval system is in place to be used as a tool to help create safe meaningful excursions with the knowledge that in the event of an incident backup systems are in place.  Full guidance can be found here

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Liz Brookes

East Lothian Council Outdoor Learning Service

Go for It Girls storm Holyrood

Go for It Girls – an inspiring group of young females from schools all across East Lothian who have spent the last year working with Leigh Shearer and a little support from the Outdoor Learning Service – accepted an invitation to share some of their experiences over this past year in parliament and with some MSP’s.

The title of the event at Holyrood was Citizens Enjoying Nature. Four groups were represented giving short presentations on some of the work that was being done by these bodies to promote more visitors into the countryside. The four groups giving presentations were Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH); Scottish Badgers; Scottish Wildlife Trust(SWT); Scottish Countryside Ranger Association(SCRA).

All very interesting presentations on how each of these bodies are encouraging more people into more areas of countryside more often. As part of the SCRA presentation East Lothian’s very own Ranger Leigh Shearer gave a presentation on how the Go for It Girls had been inspiried by the Ranger Service to get out into their own back yard countryside and make a positive contribution to it through partaking in the John Muir Award.

Leigh’s presentation can be viewed below


The girls from the group that attended the presentations worked the room beautifully at the end of the presentations and also made the most of the opportunity to speak to their local MSP (Iain Gray) about their endeavours – see image below

Well done to all girls involved in this project and they will continue their great work by mentoring this next years group.