SOAP Exped to Arran

Last week was the last part of the SOAP mountaineering skills program … and it was destination Arran. The program has run over this this year for eight S5 and S6 pupils across East Lothian’s schools, and the Arran Exped was the finale. While the Arran mountains are not high they have some of the best (and most exciting) ridge walking and scrambling in Britain.

After gearing up in Musselburgh, it’s a short drive over to Ardrossan for the afternoon ferry to Arran. We were staying the first three nights at the very fine Seal Bay Camping down near Kildonan.

After setting up camp the plan had been to visit a local single-pitch crag. It was a fine evening, bright and warm. Unfortunately as the wind dropped, the midges came out for the evening. Standing around belaying at a crag would have been murder… so Plan B was a walk along a midge free beach and a helpfully smokey driftwood bonfire.

It dawned wet, and didn’t really stop raining for the next 48 hours. Still undaunted the group set off for a mountain day. We drove up to Brodick Castle and did a fine walk up over Goatfell, North Goatfell and back down Glen Rosa

The ridge along to North Goatfell gave some easy scrambling to add interest, but it was a pretty wet day, with no sign of the fine views which we were sure were out there.

Woke to rain and decided to try and stay low. So we set off north of Blackwaterfoot and walked up the coast, sheltering in the Kings Caves before visiting the fine standing stones of Machrie.

Luckily the forecast was spot-on … after a night of very heavy rain sun came out as we packed up camp at Seal Bay. Even better there was breeze. Just enough to blow away the midges.

Making the best of the weather we set off again for an great day of high ridges, and high visibility on the horse-shoe of Ben Tarsium from Glen Rosa. Lots of excellent dry granite, and views extending south to Ireland, out to Jura and north to Ben Nevis.

A pretty tired group arrived back at the mini-bus at 7:00pm … and then had to walk in for the last night to our ‘surprise destination’ … Cloud Base.

Despite being a bit midgy the it was luxury to not be under canvas for the last night.

Another fine sunny day, and once out of the tree in the breeze midge-free.

An easy walk down past the might Falls of Glashendale and back to the bus and off to the ferry.

Despite some wet weather at the start a really good trip, the group were always in good spirits, achieved lots and came back with some great memories. Over the past year all of the SOAP participants have gained new skills and confidence that should help them be better, bolder, and safer, mountaineers in whatever adventures they want to embark upon after their school days.

For a full-screen slideshow click here, or click here for a movie. (You may not be able to see these from inside ELC Corporate Network, sorry)

‘NEW’ Visits Approval System for all – EVOLVE

An insight into ELC’s ‘NEW’ Off-Site Visits Approval SystemEVOLVE

There has been a growing realisation the ‘Educational Excursion Forms’ (EEF’s) and processing system we currently use to notify, share, authorise and report on all excursions within ELC is becoming increasingly ‘creaky’ and laborious especially in terms of data entry and authorisation by senior staff.

Research has been carried out into IT systems that automate this process; delivering efficiency benefits, improving accessibility of information, reporting and reducing paper…

The IT system chosen by ELC is EVOLVE (Educational Visits Online Virtual Environment) a fully managed online service specifically designed to enable the efficient planning, processing, monitoring and reporting of educational and off-site visits. The system is in use in more than 50 Local Authorities and is now widely regarded as the preferred choice.  Designed for use by Education, Children’s Services and Community Wellbeign departments.

Some of the benefits include:

· A robust notification and approval system adapted to suit specific Local Authority requirements
· A much quicker approval process
· Less paperwork and duplication
· 100% web-based and can therefore be accessed from any computer connected to the internet in any location
· Enables staff to upload pupil details from school information management systems (e.g. SIMS), track pupil visits attended, and download pupil reports
· Ability for LA to delegate responsibility to Visit Coordinators/Heads to approve certain types of excursion
· Staff upload and manage their own qualification/experience database which can be transferred to any LA operating the same system
· Powerful search and sort facilities to assist monitoring and reporting
· Clear audit trail
· Ability to provide parents/carers with access to specified visit information.
· Ability to upload attachments to visit information including consent forms, letters home, risk assessments etc.
· Comprehensive visit and provider evaluation tools
· Overall a one-stop shop for Visit planning, monitoring and evaluating


Where do we go from here?..

June 2011 – Continue building the system to suit ELC staffing structure and ELC Excursion & Outdoor Learning guidelines
June (onwards) 2011 – Raise awareness of the new system
Oct 2011 – Launch a pilot project with a small number of Education, Children’s Services & Community Wellbeing Establishments
Jan (start) 2011 – Start rolling out training/drop in sessions to all establishment Visit Coordinators
Jan (end) 2011 – Start rolling out training/drop in sessions to all establishment staff who will use the system
Aug 2012 – All Establishments transferred over to the EVOLVE system

Please do not hesitate to contact us to ask any questions you may have about the system, training courses can be found under ‘Staff Development’ ‘Managing Off-Site Visits’ on the Outdoor Learning website.

Liz Brookes (Outdoor Learning)
Judith Wood (H&S)

Ring your BEL

Time to sign up for this years Sports Leaders Level 3 UK Basic Expedition Leadership Programme for 2001/12. Were also running the Day Walk Leader programme for those wishing to operate in lowland terrain without the camping element.

This is a great opportunity open to all to complete this award which is a nationally recognised qualification that trains and qualifies teachers, youth workers and other members of the community to:

  • Lead walking groups in lowland countryside
  • Impart the knowledge and skills needed to undertake a day walk
  • Have responsibility for the care of others while leading a day walk in lowland countryside
  • Plan and lead overnight base and mobile camps.

It is the minimum qualification required by some Operating Authorities for those wanting to train and lead groups in the expedition section of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. More links, info on operating remit and regsitration  on the course can be found here.

We will be posting and updating a range of our Adult CPD opportunities,  over the coming weeks for 2011/12