13 November 2015
Since 1997 The Outward Bound Trust has worked in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) to raise the levels of confidence, aspiration and resilience of over 18,000 young people in the area.
Launched by the council with the aim of improving the prospects of young people, the social impact of the programme on North Lanarkshire schools has been significant. Eighteen years ago opportunities for underprivileged young people in the area were limited, with widespread apathy among many.
Working together with the council The Trust designed a residential programme for pupils in S4 (now S3) forming a vital link in the pupils’ preparation for the workplace or further education. The target group was the “forgotten middle”, those pupils identified as having unrealised potential, who need to move forward so they may find a way to do their best and improve their performance at school.
Every year in the winter months of November to January, all 23 secondary schools and 4 SEN Schools send 25% of these targeted pupils on a 5 day residential to the Trust’s Loch Eil centre in the Scottish Highlands. With around 850 pupils per year participating, the numbers of young people that have benefitted to date are considerable.
The course gives participants an opportunity to meet new people and experience exciting new environments. Working as individuals and in groups the course is demanding, but highly satisfying for both the young people and their teachers. Participants leave with increased confidence and self-esteem, having also experienced a high level of adventure; hill-walking, rock climbing/scrambling and canoeing. Not to mention, the course enables participants to complete the Adventure & Challenge Award (credit rated on the SCQF Framework at Level 5) and the John Muir Award.
This nationally significant partnership between a Council and a third sector organisation is one we are justifiably proud of and one we place great financial commitment to. 55% of the necessary funds have been provided by NLC with Outward Bound® providing the remaining 45%, bringing over £1.5 million of third party funding to benefit the young people of North Lanarkshire.
To ensure the relevance of the programme in today’s educational setting, the proposed new programme for the 2016/17 cohort is being designed to address two current key areas for Scotland; the Attainment Challenge and Developing Scotland’s Young workforce. With both of these in mind the programme has even greater benefit to the young people of North Lanarkshire today.
As it was in 2012 the programme is now under consultation as part of NLC’s budgetary review. A campaign is therefore underway to ensure that this programme continues to benefit the young people of North Lanarkshire and their local communities in the future.
We know that this programme has a hugely positive impact on the families, communities and individual participants involved, not just through formal research but anecdotal feedback too. So, if you have direct experience of this programme either as a participant, parent, teacher or otherwise please show your support before the end of November by contacting NLC here.
Martin Davidson, Scottish Director, The Outward Bound Trust