A River Runs Through It

Pencaitland P5 class started the summer term with a day on and in the river. The staff helping the class to discover their learning came from the outdoor learning service; countryside ranger service; Dave Cain (class teacher). This combined approach meant that the whole P5 class could be out at once experiencing high quality outdoor learning. The focus of the day was a river study as part of their John Muir Award.

The class of 30 were split into 3 groups into 3 sessions over the course of the day – looking at (in the class teachers own words)
River profile – looking at rate of flow compared to the depth and width of the river. Also looking at erosion of the river banks, meanders and where the river has come from and where it is going.
River dipping – looking at the variety of life inhabiting the river (we caught numerous fish as well as insects) with particular emphasis on indicator species that show how “healthy” a river is.
Canoeing – looking at evidence of work undertaken to prevent erosion. Discussed terms such as trash line, flood plain and tributary. Also explored the industrial past of the river. And of course the skills of paddling a canoe and the teamwork involved.

It was fantatstic to be part of this well run day using a very local environment to the school and for the pupils to be able to compare/ contrats the section of river at Haddington with the section of the same River Tyne that flows right past the back of the school.

More photos available from the Pencaitland School blog

Wind in the hair – Water through the fingers

Ross High School ASN pupils have continued this year with their weekly visits down to Musselburgh Lagoons to enjoy some time on the water in canoes. It allows staff to have the one to one time that the pupils require but in a unique and stimulating environment.

This programme is organised by Mr Muchall from the school and Keith here at Outdoor Learning. The school staff support all the pupils and have a cracking time on the wtaer themselves as can be seen from the smiles in the photo  above.

These afternoons are also supported from the community and provides links to further opportunities for pupils. Supporting partners include Beyond Boundaries East Lothian – Steve Nelson and Councillor John Williamson.

The pupils have been involved with canoeing and/or kayaking dependant upon their ability.

The ASN unit also organise an activity day every May at Musselburgh Lagoons involving East Lothian’s Beyond Boundaries East Lothian (an Adventure Club for those with disabilities and mental health issues); East Lothian Council’s Outdoor Learning Service and Calvert Trust.

During this day pupil’s have a chance to try a variety of activities including canoeing; kayaking; sailing; archery; blo-karting; cycling; bushcraft.

King’s of the River Tyne (and Queens)

A massive well done to all the P7 pupils( last group pictured – the entire year group took part!) from King’s Meadow Primary School, Haddington who achieved Paddlpower Start Level 1 over the last month on the River Tyne at West Mill in Haddington. This was a great opportunity for all the pupils to develop their paddling skills.

Of course it’s not all about paddling , we experienced all kinds of Scottish weather over the weeks and developed team skills through learning about paddling canoes and also developed some knowledge about  these amazing craft and the people that paddle them. We made  links to Scottish history (which linked with class topics), geography, our local environment and a few snoozes, duck catching (not real ones!!) and laughs on the way – we even managed to fit in a bit of healthy competition as well as ticking off all the paddlesport start skills.

All the P7 Pupils from King’s Meadow PS received a Paddlepower Start certificate for their achievements – as did Mr Smith (HT) congratulations to all & thanks to all the staff at school and those who got the pupils to venue, helped out with bank support( and more) – and made it all possible.

If you like to get your class to join these padddlesport achievers – why not sign up for the 2013 /14 Primary Outdoor Learning days – more details here.


SOAP go to Knoydart

Last week saw the culmination of this year’s SOAP Program. The group planned a multi-activity expedition; canoes and mountaineering. After buying supplies and packing on Sunday we drove up to Kinlochourn on the monday … the ‘gateway to Knoydart’.

A brisk three hour paddle (into the wind) on Monday evening say the group set up base-camp at Barrisdale on the Knoydart peninsular.

Tuesday was spent climbing Ladhar Bheinn, the highest mountain in Knoydart , along and round some great ridges, and top views.

Wednesday was off for a perfect paddle down the loch to the ‘famous’ tea-shed at Corran – for ice-cream wafers.

Highlight of the trip for many was the sailing back down the loch …

… then a swim and some pirate games before the final evening.

As luck would have it the wind had turned to 180 degrees so once again on the Thursday we had to battle back up into the wind before the drive home.

This is the second year of the SOAP Program. The aims of this program are to give pupils the skills, confidence and experiences to undertake ‘outdoor adventures’ in a way closer to what they will do beyond school.

All the pupils seemed to get lots out of it and we are hoping to run another program this year. If you are interested in participating in please leave your details in the comment below this post and someone from the Outdoor Learning Service will contact you.

Click here to see all of the photos in a ‘full screen’ slide show, if you stop the slideshow you should be able to download and save any of the pictures.

Level 1 Paddlesport Coaches

Congratulations to all new UKCC Level 1 Paddlesport Coaches across East Lothian Schools and Ranger Service

Chris Laud; Julie McCabe; David Gill; Gordon Muchall (all Ross High); Mhairi Walker; Elizabeth McGillivray (Preston Lodge); Leigh Shearer (Ranger Service)

Andrew Berry (Ross High) is well on his way to becoming a UKCC Level 2 Coach

Level 1 coaches from previous years across the authorities school’s include Brian Frost; Gordon Kidd; Anne Cormack (all Preston Lodge); Suzanne Ritchie (North Berwick High)

Becoming a paddlesport coach takes a considerable amount of time and effort (and finance). The enthusiasm shown by all staff in seeking to become paddlesport coaches has been incredible and hopefully it has increased their enthusiasm for paddlesport and that in turn will be passed onto the pupils that they work with.

As a level 1 coach with extra training from the Outdoor Learning Service the coaches are able to work with support and mentoring at a variety of flatwater venues across East Lothian.

Ross High School have already begun a kayaking after school club and will be integrating the paddlepower award scheme and the Cross Stream Challenge into their programme. Ross High are currently undertaking efforts to attempt to get access to the local swimming pool for a series of winter paddling sessions.

Ross High have an ongoing programme of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions through sea kayaking or canoeing and the enthusiasm and dedication of the level 1 coaches will be able to support and promote this.

Preston Lodge High School already have access to their local pool on a Friday afternoon and use it wisely to help promote paddlesport as a means of training to undertake Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions.

The next aim of the Outdoor Learning Servcie is to try and secure funding for a fleet of polo boats and associated equipment with the thought of setting up canoe polo league across East Lothian Schools.