Trailblazer news

2014 – A Record Year for Trailblazer Certificates!

Congratulations to the 8,624 young Trailblazers who received a Trailblazer Award certificate this year, and many thanks to their hard working staff and supporters who made this possible! Our team were working hard in the summer term to send out batches of colourful certificates to each child and young person who had completed at least 40 hours of outdoor learning during their award time. In addition to the huge numbers overall, we had the largest cohort of Platinum Trailblazers ever – 105 youngsters had completed more than 150 hours of Trailblazing activity!

trailblazer display

We were also very pleased to hear some details of what some of our Trailblazer schools who choose not to receive certificates have been up to – the Validation is available for any Trailblazer coordinator to complete, whether or not you want certificates, and it provides us with really valuable information to share. It could also provide you with a useful summary of your learning outside the classroom to share with senior leaders, governors, parents or other ‘special visitors’ to your school or setting.

Remember, it’s not too late to complete a validation

trailblazer display

The Trailblazer Validation 2014 has provided us with a wealth of information: it’s still most popular for a whole school or setting to be involved in the Award. We’re really pleased that none of the respondents felt outdoor learning is seen as a separate add-on activity, but rather is partially or fully integrated into the curriculum.

With regard to specific activities occurring across the schools and settings represented, there’s a great deal of variety, and hopefully some inspiration for others!

  • Discovering – the majority of respondents undertake English, maths, science, geography and art activities outside. Amongst the more unusual ideas were: puddle poetry; a Victorian wash day, and Harry Potter potions.

  • Exploring – most of our respondents participated in problem solving and team building activities, with parachute games also proving popular. The most adventurous examples included: raft building with natural materials; overnight camping with Year 2, and hunting for bones on a dinosaur trail.

  • Caring – almost all respondents grow food, care for other plants and recycle. Some of the more unique activities include: creating a special poppy and wildflower area to commemorate the WWI centenary; family Ground Force days, and building an igloo from milk bottles!

children making potions

The coordinators gave us some wonderful examples of the highlights of their Trailblazer Year which included many of them continuing to carry out exciting Trailblazer activities, despite the awful wet weather last winter brought us! The pupil’s pride in their grounds was mentioned often too, as was their general enthusiasm and excitement at learning outdoors.

The biggest challenges facing Trailblazers continue to be coping with the British weather and encouraging other staff to fully participate.

We’ll be adding more ideas from the validation survey to the website in due course, and following up specific requests for further training and support very soon.

trailblazer display

If you are not yet a Trailblazer school, but are keen to get involved please join our next New Trailblazer Coordinator Training Day on 10 October at Gilbert White Field Studies Centre, Selborne – see The Learning Zone for more information or contact


Want to make next summer's Outdoor Learning even better?

people climbing on bouldering wall

Have you been making the most of the good weather and taking learning outside? Do you feel that you would like some support to make this happen more often?

Take a look at our upcoming courses and be prepared for all weathers!

If you would like to book a place on either course please contact or visit The Learning Zone.

people making lines with bands

Trailblazer Coordinator Course

Date: Friday 10 October 2014

Venue: Gilbert White Study Centre

Cost £75 (for SLA schools)

Time: 9.00-3.00

This course provides you with all you need to start Trailblazer in your school. After a practical learning based day you will leave with a folder full of ideas and the enthusiasm to get your children outside!

But don't just take our word for it. Here's what some of our last trainees had to say:

" so easy to implement, lots of ideas to expand upon.."

"...the file is fantastic with lots of different ideas. I am looking forward to implementing them at school..."

"...thank you for a very useful and inspiring day..."

"...The outdoor sessions were great! Fun and enjoyable. A lovely set of people and approachable trainers..."


Outdoor Learning Cards

The first three Outdoor Learning Cards training courses took place this term around the County. With staff from almost 40 schools – infant to secondary - participating in very active outdoor sessions over the three dates we were very pleased the weather was so kind to us! The training is a pre-requisite for people to acquire the popular OEAP Outdoor Learning Cards, with 50 activities which offer accessible, progressive means of supporting Outdoor Adventurous Activities for the new PE curriculum, along with many other curricular opportunities. The activities contribute directly to a wide range of educational and development aims for children and young people and cover four elements of Outdoor Learning that can be delivered on a school site and surrounding environment:

  • Orienteering - use the site for fun and physical activities, whilst developing good map reading skills

  • Team Building and Problem Solving - present exciting challenges for individuals and teams

  • Bouldering - use of low level climbing walls and holds for physical and mental challenges

  • Journeying - develop skills to undertake ventures around the site and begin to organise local visits

Each participant receives a set of the activity cards with clear written instructions and diagrams; these are supported by a Handbook and CD that provide detailed information on all aspects of activity delivery.

people climbing on bouldering wall

Comments from participants on the most recent courses include:

“Invaluable – do it – get out there!”

“Great way of providing practical experience to use with children”

“Informative with lots of good ideas”

“An excellent source of information to get children involved in the outdoors, either as a team or boosting individual skills and confidence”

One participant confessed they have always been afraid of orienteering, but found this very accessible and they were now ready to have a go with pupils! A more experienced colleague enjoyed learning new ways of teaching orienteering skills and the ready to print resources available.

We will be running further courses in the next school year, including Tuesday 21st October, venue tbc. Please visit the Learning Zone for more information on how to book.

people orienteering with blindfolds

Water, water everywhere!

As a Trailblazer school you can keep up to date with exciting projects that can enhance your outdoor learning. Here are some examples:

As the weather turns warmer you may be interested in finding out more about the following projects.

Borrow a free beach kit

The Wildlife Trust has free beach loans kits for schools to borrow to help teachers run trips to the coast. The kits include resources for running a range of activities with Key Stages 1-3, including shelter building, plankton fishing, rockpooling, beach art and games. To book out a beach kit, or tel. 01489 774426

Learning about the sea in a swimming pool

The Wildlife Trust is offering a fun new marine education activity for Key Stage 2, called Undersea Explorers, based in a swimming pool. The session involves teaching children to snorkel in a pool filled with life-like marine plant and animal props, including kelp, crabs and jellyfish. Feedback so far shows that the sessions help children learn about undersea habitats and boosts their confidence in the water. Sessions are currently available free of charge to schools with access to a swimming pool. Contact: Email: or tel. 01489 774426

children on a beach

The Wild Trout Trust

picture of big trout

The Wild Trout Trust is a charity that promotes healthy rivers for our native species. Recently they have taken a project called “Mayfly in the Classroom” to a number of primary schools. The aim of the project is to link with river days out or field trips and take some of what is learned back into the class to further promote healthy river systems.

A small number of mayfly can be collected whilst on the trip and then a simple apparatus system set up in the classroom to hatch the mayfly out, allowing them then to return to the river.

The project is quick, easy and great fun!

For further details

Milton Locks Nature Reserve Outdoor Learning

  • Milton Locks is a small seashore reserve that provides a safe, exciting and easily accessible environment for your children to explore the shore.

  • New for 2014 – Nordic Adventure Tipi available for shelter in bad weather – seats up to 35 children! The reserve is also undergoing a series of management works to make it an even better place for people and wildlife.

For more information please contact

Out in all weathers at the Outdoor Service Day!

People learning in the rain

The wet and windy conditions of Friday 25th April failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the teachers, LSAs, DofE leaders and others who joined us for a lively event at Pauline’s Lodge. There was a celebration of the positive impact of getting outdoors and active with children and young people at the start of the day, followed by three hours of practical workshops.

John Clarke the deputy director of Children’s Services opened the day with a personal account of his own experiences of the challenges that mountain marathons present. John described how despite some extreme conditions and physical hardships endured by himself and fellow runners, they retain enthusiasm and a sense of sheer joy at being outdoors undertaking physical feats. John then went on to explain how participating in Outdoor Adventurous Activities (OAA) has been proved in recent studies to add at least 3 months progress to children’s academic achievements in schools. He was keen to stress that we must not underestimate the value of giving youngsters the chance to get out and experience outdoor learning in its broadest sense.

Dani King - Cycling

We were honoured to next welcome the Olympic gold medallist Dani King. Dani was spotted as a 14 year old and joined the British Cycling Talent Team, despite it being a new sport for her. She endured a number of difficulties over the first few years, including being taken off the team and suffering with severe glandular fever. However her incredible determination and self-belief helped her to recover, achieve some victories in late 2010 and then be asked to rejoin the GB team in 2011. She went on to great success in 2011, becoming World Champion, and then became one of the 2012 Gold Medal winners. Dani described how team psychologist Steve Peters was key to their Olympic success, helping her to focus on the process not outcome of each race – it’s “just another 12 laps around the track” rather than “I could win Gold here”. Her personal achievements owe a lot to the support of her friends and family who have always been there for her and offered fantastic encouragement. Dani is motivated to continue as she feels she can still improve and there is more to come. With regard to how we can help future young athletes, Dani suggested that access to a variety of after school clubs, run by enthusiastic teachers, is vital – she remembers staff continuing with a club even when only two pupils turned up. Opportunities for competitions and events locally are also very important. A great chance to highlight women in sport comes next month with the inaugural Women’s Tour of Britain featuring Dani and other cycling stars, which will be televised from 7-11 May every night for an hour on ITV4.

Stuart Nundy finished the morning’s presentations with a description of what the Outdoor Education, PE & DofE Service can offer schools and other groups in the way of training, equipment and support. More information is available via our website – Use of voting buttons helped to encourage audience participation in this session and prompted some interesting responses – lots of people enjoy porridge for breakfast! Stuart also reminded delegates of just how much goes on in our area – in 2013 over 400,000 young people days participating in adventurous activity and residentials alone, with sports fixtures and day visits on top of that. We must remember that as a community we are doing a very good job in giving youngsters experiences many would not get otherwise.

people doing kite workshop

The workshops undertaken throughout the rest of the day were hampered slightly by the unrelenting rain. Some hardy groups stayed out for the whole of their hour long sessions, others dipped in and out from a more sheltered spot. Sadly it wasn’t the weather for kite flying, but an indoor alternative allowed the group to see the equipment and learn about the potential for using kites with their groups. Although it wasn’t the brightest day, I was struck by the enthusiasm of participants in waterproofs and wellies, and I had my first experience of seeing people orienteering with an umbrella!

people orienteering with umbrellas

Many thanks to all the workshop leaders, including staff from the Countryside Service demonstrating Story Trails and Tom Nash from Stubbington Study Centre with Earthwalks. Indoor Caving and Kiting equipment are available to hire from the Service, as are Raccoon Circles as part of the Trailblazer problem solving kit. Those inspired by Numeracy in the Woods may be interested in further Maths Outdoors on 16th June at Nightingale Primary, and there will be more orienteering and problem solving activities as part of the Outdoor Learning Card training planned for 20 May and 20 June. These activities can all contribute to the OAA requirements of the new PE Curriculum.

people participating in story activity

Overall the day was full of enthusiastic, positive outdoor learning and discussion. The over-riding message from the event was that we need to give our children and young people the chance to learn and experience the widest variety of outdoor activities we possibly can, to motivate them to become active lifelong learners.

people carrying out plank challenge

If you want to get more involved in outdoor learning at your establishment, our next Trailblazer training days for new coordinators are:

Friday 10 October 2014 - Gilbert White Study Centre

Friday 13 March 2015 - Testwood Lakes

Please contact or visit the Learning Zone.

Trailblazer Schools are busy getting Outdoors!

We love hearing about all the Trailblazing going on in our schools and it's always nice when a school is kind enough to share some of their Trailblazer News.

St. Albans Primary School in Havant are a fantastic example of a school that uses Trailblazer daily to enhance school life and get children outdoors. They even produce a termly Trailblazer newsletter to share their achievements.

Year R take part in Welly Wednesdays when they go outside to learn whatever the weather. Here's a quote from Aidan:

"I really like building outside with sticks. i feel happy when we are running around the field looking for things..."

In connection with their work on birds, Year One have been visited by Jan Atkinson from the Langstone Harbour Little Tern project. They have also found a 'Blackbird's Lunch' - a very popular activity from our Trailblazer Coordinator Training Day!

Other activities throughout the school have included; forming a Green team to deal with recycling, gardening and a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Stubbington. The school even have pupil ambassadors for Trailblazer and Recycling.

If you are a Trailblazer Coordinator you can read more about St Alban's on our School Focus page.

To find out more about becoming a Trailblazer School please contact

Making Trailblazer part of the new National Curriculum

girl making rangoli patterns

With the new curriculum on the horizon many schools are taking the opportunity to integrate outdoor learning into everyday classroom life.

The new curriculum offers many opportunities for outdoor learning and our Trailblazer scheme is the perfect starting point for gaining and sharing outdoor ideas.

Many people find it easy to include outdoor learning in subjects like science but struggle to use the outdoors in less obvious subjects.

We can help you to make the most of your outdoor environment (whatever size) and this years Trailblazer Coordinator courses will help you get to grips with the new Curriculum.

Our Trailblazer schools have access to outdoor lesson ideas and we will be providing some fresh new ideas throughout the year. We also update our website regularly with information to inspire you.

Our next Trailblazer courses are:

  • Friday 10 October 2014 – Gilbert White’s House, Selborne

For further details please contact

Trailblazer schools get outdoors!

picture of japanese garden

Our yearly Trailblazer Validation survey results always amaze us! The variety of activities that schools are carrying out and the innovative ways that Trailblazer has become a part of the curriculum make very interesting reading.

The Validation Survey is sent out to our Trailblazer schools after the Easter holidays and is our way of finding out how Trailblazer is progressing.

Some of the most interesting activities we have heard about include:

Arctic Food Chain Frenzy

Forces on Funfair Rides

Wolf Traps

Rocket Explosion

Wildfood Walk

Weekend Family Groundforce

Growing a natural wigwam

Recycled Scarecrows

Japanese Zen Gardens

Mystery Maps

Land Art

Milk Bottle Birds

Pirates of the Caribbean Number Hunt

Paperless Day

Pixie Hunt

Trailblazer is a big part of school life for many children and provides lasting memories. Here are some highlights from our schools.

  • Setting up a ‘Knight School’ where children trained their parents to be knights. All parents came along and did jousting, dragon fighting, archery and agility trails.

  • Working in family groups on Trailblazer mornings – giving year groups the chance to work together

  • Afternoon tea made with school-grown produce

  • Year 2 spelling tests outside involving natural objects

  • Seeing the newts at the bug hotel eating bugs

  • Twig epitaphs and twig skeletons*

photo of a newt

The benefits of Trailblazer are varied and not just academic:

  • Less academic children being able to shine, giving a big boost in self-esteem.

  • Less disruption during lesson time because they have been outside.

  • Newer teachers becoming involved and confident.

  • Seeing the children become more independent and confident.

  • Seeing children build resilience by taking risks and challenging themselves when unsure.

Our schools find Trailblazer a positive addition to the curriculum:

  • At the beginning of the year my class were extremely difficult, they could not work as a team and lacked compassion towards other class members who were not their friends. After PSHE lessons outside working together they became the most supportive and helpful group of children. They encourage each other and this has transferred into their behaviour in the classroom.

  • Ofsted liked our multi-sensory approach

  • Children always more excited on the day their Trailblazer task is set and they know the quicker they get other work completed the more time they will have outside.

If you are a Trailblazer school and would like to view a full report of the Validation survey please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Trailblazer school please contact for more details.

* You can find wonderful seasonal ideas for outside activities on the Woodland Trust website.




Outdoor Ed News Pages

PE & Sport News Pages

DofE News Pages