Few schools can say that each day brings new experiences and opportunities. Christ College Brecon, however, is one such school where students can take advantage of its 40-acre campus amid a scenic national park to step out of their comfort zone and develop new skills and knowledge outside the classroom within a supportive learning environment.
Christ College is a school in Wales that was founded by Henry VIII in 1541. Here, learning is never dull — students might enjoy a surprise visit of six docile alpacas in the middle of a school day. Holiday camps are jam-packed with an unbeatable variety of fun activities like learning how to canoe on the Brecon canal, dragon pot clay making, and “Matilda” drama sessions, all of which can help with students’ character and skill development.
Underpinning the school’s enriching extracurricular activities are its goal to provide a positive experience for its 360 pupils, aged between the ages of seven and 18. Learning at Christ College is holistic as students are not just prepared for their next academic step, but for lifelong success.
A “second curriculum” –– a term Simon Hill, deputy head pastoral, refers to “all activities, events, and experiences pupils enjoy outside the classroom” — was developed to ensure this.
The school understands that co-curricular activities play an essential role in character development, which is why Christ College is restructuring its weekly timetable to remove structured academic lessons from Saturday mornings. Instead, they are replacing it with a stronger focus on consolidation and skills development.
The restructured timetable and second curriculum will start in September 2021. This allows students to focus on their academic lessons on the weekdays and enjoy themselves on the weekends. Sixth Form students are already experiencing this switch-up, or what the school calls “Curriculum for Life”.
Through this, older pupils have the opportunity to participate in seminars on financial literacy, politics, or philosophy; get advice on navigating the UCAS system and university courses; and gain general life skills such as cooking. They learn outside the classroom by spending time outdoors, helping others in the community, and working towards extracurricular achievements such as the Duke of Edinburgh award.
The balance between academia and extracurricular activities allows more room for drama, music, creative arts, and elite sporting pathways to inspire pupils to develop new skills and lifelong passions outside the classroom.
Sport also plays a vital role in shaping the lives of students. Pupils have the opportunity to compete in an array of sports that span cricket, hockey, netball, tennis, rugby, athletics, aerobics, badminton, basketball, kayaking, swimming, mountain biking, and cross-country at Christ College. Parents will also get to bear witness to these passions coming to life on Saturdays, or the school’s Spirit Days, by joining the community in cheering on school teams or performances.
The restructuring has also allowed Christ College to introduce an adventure programme The Beacon Course–– a series of progressive and challenging outdoor activities that help pupils build self-resilience and improve their teamwork, communication, and leadership skills –– essential for university life and beyond.
Echoing this is Chris Kerr, director of Outdoor Education, who says: “Challenging experiences outdoors impacts powerfully upon a young person’s intellectual, physical, spiritual, social and moral development.”
“The sessions are aimed to give children positive experiences to make them more comfortable with the outdoor environment, themselves, and the natural things around them. Coupling this with ‘bringing the classroom outdoors’ and relating activity to topics being covered in the syllabus is, I think, really exciting.”
Christ College’s unique location on a picturesque site on the outskirts of Brecon –– a safe, compact, and tranquil market town –– also serves as an inspiring learning environment. Its location in the heart of Brecon Beacons National Park means students can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in the vast, green, open spaces.
The school’s location on the banks of the Usk and at the foot of the Brecon Beacons — a mountain range in Wales — means pupils can easily go climbing, gorge-walking, paddle boarding, hillwalking and mountain biking. Attractions such as the Usk Bridge is only a short distance from Christ College.
“Some of the most stunning cave systems in the UK lie under the Black Mountain and we are also a stone’s throw from challenging traditional and sport climbing venues, so we should take full advantage!” enthuses Kerr.
If your interest is piqued, click here to find out more about Christ College Brecon.