The heavy snow opened up a winter wonderland for schoolchildren staying at two North Yorkshire County Council outdoor education centres – and staff pulled out all the stops to make it fun,fun and learning all the way.

East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre near Whitby and Bewerley Park Outdoor Education Centre near Harrogate both had residential primary school groups staying and it was all hands to the pumps as catering and teaching staff undertook additional sleeping-in duties to ensure the centres were adequately staffed and things could run smoothly.

The arctic conditions provided many challenges for staff and pupils alike, but it was also a memorable and unique outdoor learning experience. The outdoor learning centres and visiting school staff worked incredibly hard to ensure the children had a safe and enjoyable week while experiencing the extreme conditions.

No minibuses were moved for four days, so the standard programme was changed to involve sledging, skiing and other snow-related activities, offering an incredibly creative and exciting week of challenge and learning. Pupils left happy and proud of their achievements, with lifelong memories of their snowy adventure.

There were 31 Year 6 students and three staff from St Robert’s Catholic Primary School in Harrogate at East Barnby, and at Bewerley Park were 23 Year 5 and Year 4 students (nine to 10-years-olds) from Clayton–le–Woods School in Lancashire and 24 Year 6 students (10 to 11-year-olds) from Hallgate Primary School in Cottingham, East Yorkshire.

Dave Barker, acting head of centre at East Barnby Outdoor Education Centre, said: “East Barnby staff have worked hard to ensure we can run an exciting programme for the young people, ever having to be adaptive in what we provide. The young people of St Robert’s School have been incredibly resilient and have definitely made the most of what the snow can offer.”

Jill Collins, headteacher of St Robert’s School, said: “Having been to East Barnby over a number of years, this weather has perhaps been the most challenging. However, as usual, East Barnby and our children rose to the occasion. The skiing was a highlight and we are returning home proud of our accomplishments and resilience in adverse weather conditions.”

Kayleigh Howlett, the Clayton school group leader, said: “All the Bewerley staff have really kept the children motivated throughout the week despite the snow. There has been 100 per cent commitment to every activity from Bewerley Park staff who adapted expertly to the conditions. Regardless of the snow, the children have learned so much and showed great progress and resilience. The staff worked hard to ensure that the week was an unforgettable experience through all the great adventures and by providing a warm welcome and fantastic food to keep our energy levels up.”

Gillian Lund, the Hallgate Primary group leader, said: “Given the weather conditions, all of the Bewerley staff did amazingly well to work together and put together a programme that both schools could enjoy, keeping the pupils motivated all day every day even when they were cold and tired. It really is a credit to Bewerley Park centre and something we thought was second to none.”

North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Schools, Councillor Patrick Mulligan, said: “This is a fantastic example of the excellent experience the outdoor learning centres offer. The staff slept in at the centres and did everything they could to make sure the children had a memorable and exciting time and it is a real credit to them.’’

Find out more about North Yorkshire Outdoor Learning Services at www.outdoored.co.uk