Mick Mingstones, Headteacher at West Denton Primary School, Newcastle tells us about his experience working with us in developing outdoor experiences and learning throughout WDPS.

WDPS Life Cycle

In January 2013, West Denton Primary School (WDPS) began working with Dave Buchan in order to develop cycling. At our first meeting, I realised that Dave shared my passion for giving children a wide range of outdoor experiences which would help them to live out many of the WDPS Core Values which include ‘Empathy’, ‘Respect’ ‘Commitment’ and becoming a ‘Well-balanced person.’

Dave trained both school staff and children and he quickly gained the respect of our school community. From initial short rides offsite under Dave’s expert guidance, the children soon developed fitness, cycling, motivational and people skills which culminated in them completing a 135 mile bike ride around Northumberland in June 2014. These children were aged ten and eleven years of age.

From those small beginnings WDPS children have most recently gone on and tackled the Sandstone Way with Dave as our guide.In July 2018 WDPS staff self-guided our children to complete the 138 miles Coast to Coast challenge in very hot conditions.

Developing Outdoor Learning

Visitors to WDPS normally comment that our children seem happy in school. We believe this is because we have created a unique curriculum that offers something for all children including lots of outdoor learning which impacts  positively on their mental and physical health.

At WDPS we strive to give our children the opportunity to develop useful life skills that will help them to set and achieve aspirational goals. We have created a bespoke Bushcraft Area (which includes a tree house and fire pit) so that all of our children can experience nature and learning outdoors in a very special environment.

WDPS Bushcraft includes the following elements:

  • Tool use, Safety and Maintenance (Vegetable peeler, billhook, loppers, bowsaw and sheath knife)
  • Shelters (Tents, tarps and natural resources)
  • Knots and Lashings
  • Fires and Cooking (Construct different types of fire and prepare and make meals)
  • Flora and Fauna
  • Creative Thinking and Art (Planned into the International Primary Curriculum)
  • Team Building and Group Work

WDPS Running and Mountain Bike Trail 

Children learn how to ride a bike, carry out basic mechanics, gain confidence and improve personal fitness. WDPS has the first all-weather running and cycling track in Newcastle. We strive to give our children the best experiences and life chances.

WDPS Life Skills Challenge Award 

At West Denton Primary School (WDPS) we have created the WDPS Life Skills Challenge Award as we want all our children to develop essential life skills that will help them to thrive in life. Elements include:

  • Navigation Skills
  • Shelter Skills
  • Fire Building and Cooking Skills
  • Local Habitats (Flora and Fauna) • Service to Others
  • WDPS Resilience
  • Best Life (Health, Nutrition and Exercise)
  • WDPS First Aid
  • WDPS Cycle
  • WDPS Olympics Challenge

This award scheme will take 7 – 8 years to complete as the children gain new knowledge and develop higher-level thinking and practical skills.

Overall we believe this is a healthy approach to learning with benefits both inside and outside the traditional classroom and curriculum.