This week I was pleased to be able to see off the Year 3 and Year 4 residential trips (Year 4 pictured on arrival at Glaramara). Sunny mornings, bags packed, teachers checking and re-checking. For many, particularly in Year 3, this was their first time staying away from family. Standing with mums and dads by the side of the road, we watched the coaches depart, taking sons and daughters off for adventures far away. Much waving through the windows. There were a few anxious faces, perhaps a well concealed tear or two. The children, on the other hand, were all smiling and looking excited for the days ahead.
Whilst we have residential trips every term, this summer term is the busiest, hardly a week passing without another bus departing full of suitcases, excitement and ambition. Many of these trips involve all the children in a particular year group or all studying a particular subject as part of the curriculum. They go to learn. Others are of a voluntary nature, such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions, CCF Army camp, the rugby tour to South Africa and the Round Square project in Tanzania. They also go to learn.
As I look back to my own school days, I recall that the first residential trip I went on was in the lower sixth, at the age of 16. There were not the same opportunities that my children have now, consequently I was not encouraged in a sense of adventure in the same way. On reflection, that was a pity. Today, schools can take a much more proactive role in encouraging children to develop confidence, independence and resilience.
They say that being a parent is easy, all you have to do is give your children roots and wings. Actually, in my experience, there are times when both can be a challenge. As I watched those excited youngsters leave this week, I suspected that there may yet be a moment of doubt, homesickness or a tear at night. It is another small step to giving them the wings they will undoubtedly need in the future.
M H P Walton