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How an integrated Outward Bound programme can contribute towards improved performance in the classroom and the workplace.
Young people in Education
Outward Bound courses build confidence, develop young people's abilities to interact and work effectively with others and can improve achievement and progress in school. The following education case studies focus on some specific outcomes.
All case studies and quotes included on this site have been provided directly by individuals involved in our courses. All individual young people’s names have been changed in order to protect their identity.
Before his Outward Bound course Mark lacked a lot of confidence in his abilities and this often resulted in problems with behaviour. His day-to-day relationship with many of the teaching staff was tense, and he found it hard to trust or communicate with teachers. He would struggle with certain tasks but would often decline help if offered, and instead of persevering with problem solving, he would give up quickly and start misbehaving.
During his Outward Bound course Mark developed a more ‘can-do’ and positive attitude and began to work with his team to complete team tasks, instead of giving up. He began to understand how his participation within a team could ‘make’ or ‘break’ the team morale. He thrived in this environment and appreciated the level of trust that was offered to him.
He rose to this challenge, which in turn had a positive knock-on effect with his interaction with teaching and Outward Bound staff. He also improved his communication skills with peers, learning to share his feelings and experiences, which was a big step as he often finds this a huge challenge.
Since he has been back in school, his behaviour has improved and he has a more respectful and trusting relationship with teaching staff. His communication has improved greatly and he will now ask for help from certain teaching staff. He participates more positively in teamwork and understands better the results of his actions. Outward Bound was the perfect environment to encourage him to work on certain skills and learn more about himself and how his actions and attitude can affect others.
He is beginning to believe in himself and has even taken the step of joining a sports club in the city centre – a huge leap forward as this involved meeting and working with a whole new group of individuals, and he is feeling proud of himself for taking that first step to get there. I really believe that the Outward Bound experience played a vital part in this latest chapter in his life.
Case example provided five months after Mark’s course by Heather Darling, Active Schools
Coordinator at Queensferry High School, West Lothian.
Akim is a pupil from George Green’s School, located in a deprived area in East London. He has complex needs – he has autism, a very short attention span, and often talks over people. He torments his peers and finds it difficult to interact with others. The purpose of the course for Akim was to develop his social skills.
During the course Akim had many incidents with others in his group, and was often given time out to
calm down. On the final day of the course, he began to understand what he was doing wrong and was able to tell the Outward Bound staff and teaching staff what he needed to do to apologise and avoid making the same mistake again.
Since returning to school, his teachers and his Head of Year have seen a significant improvement in him. When in a conflict situation, he now takes time out to calm himself down and reflect on the situation. He has become more mature and is more approachable, which has enabled him to develop a small friendship group. He is also showing signs of improvement within school. The school’s internal behaviour monitoring system shows he is taking part in more activities within the school and is achieving more positive merits than negative incidents.
Case example provided three months after Akim’s Outward Bound course by Amanda Hughes, Teacher at George Green’s School, East London.
The programme was delivered over a five year period between 2007 and 2012, and aimed to improve the retention, achievement and progression of pupils. A yearly evaluation of the programme conducted by nfpSynergy used interviews, focus groups and questionnaires to identify the outcomes of the programme.
The qualitative research showed that the Outward Bound programme had become an “essential part of the school fabric”, informing “the evolving school culture in ways that feel clear to students and staff alike”. It provided pupils with a new level of challenge that promoted pride and achievement, and broadened their horizons. It built a sense of confidence and capability, developed perseverance, and helped pupils to become more mature and independent individuals.
Through repeated courses, pupils’ skills became more refined and there was a clear sense that they were increasingly ready to handle the challenges of everyday life.
By the end of the five-year programme, the Head Teacher reported a more stable, engaged school community, with a thriving leadership culture that had been directly influenced by the programme.
“The culture of pupil representation and engagement now forged effectively through the School Council and Prefects has been meaningfully aided by the leadership skills and confidence that Outward Bound nurtures [...] School Council and Prefect Groups are active [...] aspects which the Head had struggled to make effective without the extra support and momentum provided by the Outward Bound programme but which now appear to be flourishing.”
An Ofsted inspection report published in 2010 recognised the quality of the partnership between the school, The Outward Bound Trust and Deutsche Bank (the project funder) in raising pupils’ aspirations and in providing experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible to pupils.
Research has shown that the gap in attainment during primary school between the richest and poorest pupils grows very quickly, accounting for 12% of the attainment gap at age 11, and suggests that policies that aim to change pupils’ attitudes and behaviours during primary school could be effective in reducing the growth in that gap.
We have worked in partnership with Christ Church C of E Primary School for three years to deliver a programme for all pupils in Year 6. The programme is progressive in nature, taking pupils on three residential courses during the year in order to develop key skills for learning. The first course gets pupils hooked on the experience and enables teachers to assess pupils’ learning needs; the second excites them and is an opportunity to review and evaluate the skills already learnt; the third is a chance to become “fluent” in the skills they’ve developed over the duration of the programme.
What does this “fluency” look like? Headteacher Jakki Rogers says “taking responsibility for belongings, being on time for sessions, and collaborating with others”, so that when they move into secondary school the following year, they have the confidence and independence to embrace new challenges.
One of the most noticeable changes that Ms Rogers observes in pupils during the course is in the language they use towards each other; it becomes more positive, “less whiney and confrontational” and they are able to show more empathy and maturity in their interaction with others. But she notes that this tends to dissipate as they return to school, and that repeated exposure to Outward Bound also helps pupils to become more fluent in these skills.
Over time, they’ve realised how important it is to embed the programme in their pedagogy and curriculum, and Ms. Rogers describes how the three courses are essential to creating the change they aspire to for their pupils. She now knows which experiences the pupils need to have early on in the programme so that they can make the most of the final expedition course at Loch Eil, which has the potential to be “mind-blowing” for pupils whose daily experience is of high-rise flats in south London.
Christ Church C of E Primary School achieves significant results for its pupils, who achieve more than expected against national curriculum standards. Whilst it’s not possible to isolate the impact that the Outward Bound programme has, it is a key – and growing – element of the school’s curriculum.
Young People in Employment
To demonstrate the medium-term effects of our work on apprentices’ and graduates’ performance, we present case studies from three organisations where a follow-up evaluation was conducted between one and six months after their programme.
The purpose of the Outward Bound programme was to develop aspects of the graduates’ self-awareness, personal responsibility and ability to develop others through coaching and feedback, in line with the organisations’ ‘people’ and ‘learning’ behavioural competencies.
24 graduates took part in the pilot three-day programme in 2012. Our evaluation indicated that it was effective in improving the self-development and coaching behaviours that the company wished to instil. Ten weeks after the programme, the delegates reported increased likelihood to take ownership of their learning at work and increased confidence to support and coach colleagues.
The graduates highlighted a range of other programme outcomes, from increased confidence and optimism, to stronger relationships with other graduates and increased enthusiasm to tackle new challenges. Their feedback suggests that the programme has benefited the graduates both personally and professionally on a number of different levels.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EVALUATION INCLUDED
- 91% agreed that they were more likely to seek personal development to improve their performance at work
- 77% agreed that they were more likely to seek feedback from a colleague on their performance at work
- 77% agreed that they felt more able to empower colleagues to complete tasks
- 73% agreed that they were more likely to coach a colleague in their work
- 95% agreed that they had a better understanding of their areas for development.
We’ve worked with BAE Systems for over thirteen years to help their apprentices become dynamic, effective employees. The programme takes place during the first six weeks of their apprenticeship and focuses on building their self-awareness, self-confidence, self-management and skills in working with others, from communication to leadership. It also aims to enhance their understanding of BAE Systems’ values and ethical principles.
In 2012, 219 apprentices attended a five-day Outward Bound programme. Six months afterwards, training staff, line managers and apprentices completed an online survey regarding the programme. 150 apprentices and 14 staff (who we refer to as ‘observers’) completed the survey.
The evaluation showed that the programme is regarded as a highly positive experience that helps prepare apprentices for the many requirements of their apprenticeship. It develops their capacity for independent learning, collaborative working and self-management, and gives them a deeper understanding of the organisation’s values and ethical principles. When asked “What was the most useful part of the Outward Bound programme?”, 84% of apprentices clearly described the opportunity to develop skills in working with others, from getting to know new people and developing strong personal relationships, to learning to communicate openly, to consider, respect and trust others, and to be patient towards others.
The programme also appears to have had a positive effect on the apprentices’ behaviour at work, in particular in relation to safety and attendance.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EVALUATION INCLUDED
- 93% of apprentices and 100% of observers agreed that the programme had developed the apprentices’ skills in working with others
- 94% of apprentices and 89% of observers agreed that the programme had given the apprentices a better understanding of why it is important to be motivated and committed at college and/or work
- 87% of apprentices and 94% of observers agreed that the programme had developed the apprentices’ skills in self-management.
We’ve worked with Volkswagen Group for ten years to help develop their franchise networks apprentices. Whilst the company is able to develop the apprentices’ technical skills through internal training, we work with them to help develop their key skills, such as teamwork, planning and communication, and in particular to develop customer-focused behaviours.
In 2013, 250 apprentices took part in a five-day programme during the second year of their three-year apprenticeship. An internal evaluation of the programme, conducted by Volkswagen Group’s Learning and Development Team, shows that the programme has a positive effect on the apprentices’ skills in a number of areas, including communication, confidence, emotional maturity, planning and teamwork.
Between one and three months after the programme, line managers were asked to rate any changes they had observed in their apprentices’ skills and behaviours at work. Changes in skills were reported from partially through to wholly improved.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE EVALUATION INCLUDED
- 94% of line managers reported improved communication to staff and 87% reported improved communication to customers
- 94% of line managers reported improved confidence and emotional maturity
- 96% of line managers reported improved planning and preparation.