Newlands Academy is a special school for students who have social, emotional and mental health needs. Many of the students have had to overcome significant difficulties in their lives and have struggled to succeed in other educational establishments; in some cases, they have been regarded as unteachable. Paul Koloi is a teacher there and he has been bringing a group to Green Dale for outdoor activities.
The Monday class came 5 times (5-6 kinds each time) and the Tuesday class came 5 times (3-4 kids each time). This is his note about those experiences.
I think the Green Dale site is truly special, I love how rough and ready it is and has many little corners that give it a different feel to most outdoor spaces around London.
When I first walked around I was amazed at how big it was and what a great view you can have from the concrete part at the top. The astro turf is a great addition as well and I thought the kids at my school would love to us this site. What I had in mind was that the kids could either do some some sports on the astro and those that fancied a wonder could go and walk around and explore the space.
We brought fire bowl, fire wood, chairs and some lunch. Before we left a few of the boys were very dismissive of the idea and said that it was too cold and they didn’t want to be outside. They wanted to be outdoors, words like ‘I hate outdoors’ and ‘I hate the cold’ were used a lot. After much coaxing they finally came. We took all our gear to the top bit where it was concreted and set up. Lit the fire and sat around. The boys were mesmerised by the fire and just loved loved sitting and enjoying what we were doing. They then walked around and picked up some sticks and were sword fighting, they did this for 30 mins. It was intense and very physical but safe and choreographed and they just loved it.
The kids couldn’t quite believe we could do this inner city London and also have staff that allow them to have a fire. There were a lot of dog walkers around that the boys could talk to and they enjoyed talking to members of the public.
We cooked some frankfurters and they loved that. They complained we didn’t have proper bbq food but we promised them burgers next week.
When we finished we poured water over the embers and discarded it where it could not be seen, made sure the heat was gone from the embers. Tided up all our rubbish and went home. The boys talked about all day today. So thank you for this and they can’t wait for next week.