Students from the Rising Futures Programme at Langley Academy had an action-packed day at Chiltern Rangers on November 13th. As part of the Yes Futures Programme, selected students are invited to Play Your Part and engage with the local community. It is a fantastic opportunity to take the students outside their normal classroom setting, and work with their Yes Futures Coaches on developing their chosen talent areas of confidence, resilience, communication and self-awareness.
The morning started with a quiet and shy group of students who appeared to be quite disengaged. We had an initial chat about conservation and the environment before leaving the school, but the students fell silent. This looked like it could be a challenging day for our coaches.
We arrived at Iver Heath Park and were greeted by Park Ranger Tony and other volunteer Friends of Iver Heath who had a tarpaulin full of gardening tools and a big bonfire behind him. He told us that today we would be cutting down trees and throwing them onto the bonfire. Some of the students looked puzzled, and one said 'I thought we were helping the environment today?'. Tony clearly had anticipated this, and commented on how cutting down the trees and removing the bramble made way for new habitats to develop. Also, the park faced big problems with antisocial behaviour that happened on this particular path because of the narrowness of it and the encroaching trees.
Tony separated the teams and briefed them on the task ahead. I don't think anyone thought we would be sawing down trees today! The students gathered their tools and headed off with one of the Friends of Iver Heath. This gave the students an opportunity to talk to a new person - developing their communication and confidence skills. Due to the nature of the work, sawing down and carrying felled trees required excellent team-working skills, which the students demonstrated with ease. Getting properly stuck in to the activity, students came out of their shells and excitement grew whilst completing the tasks.
The morning session was broken up by a quick hot chocolate break. During the break, one of the students asked Park Ranger Paul how he got the fire started when the ground was so wet. Paul then took a small group off to demonstrate lighting fire with a stone, flint and cotton wool. The students each had a turn and when others saw what was happening, the students taught the others how it was done. This showed outstanding leadership and presentation skills. They even showed our CEO Sarah Wallbank!!
The students finished up the path clearing and the park rangers all commented on how they had completely transformed the area, making it a safer place for the public to be. The students had shown a great deal of resilience - especially when learning how to saw the trees properly.
Back at the school we had a debrief to see what the students had learnt. All commented on how they had improved their communication skills - particularly when making sure the area was safe as the tree's fell. They reflected on some of the interesting conversations they had with the older volunteers who also supported us. Each student gave a short presentation in front of the others, clearly communicating the benefits to themselves and others of the hard work they had put in!
As one of the coaches, this was an inspiring day to be involved in. The students blossomed in this environment outside of school. The lead teacher with us commented on how surprised she was at the students behaviour, hard work and determination to get the work completed. All coaches reflected on how proud they were of the students they coached.
The Yes Futures Coaching Team want to say a big thank you to Tony, Paul and the other volunteers at Chiltern Rangers for the activities they had arranged.
To find out more about how your students could get involved with the Yes Futures Programmes, please contact Sophie, Impact Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07908 687779 or visit our website.
If you're interested in becoming a Play Your Part partner, please contact Helena, Head of Programmes: email@example.com.