Superweeks: Education

“I have known many children who have benefited enormously from a new enjoyment in learning, a sense of personal responsibility, and the disciplines of co-operation and working with others to get things done. I believe it would be extremely beneficial if such ideas could be extended, through the training of teachers, from the context of holidays into the classroom”

Baroness Mary Warnock of Weeke.

The ATE Trust was built on the shared belief of a group of educationalists that the potential benefits to children, and the young people who would be trained to work with them, could be huge.

We try to ensure each and every child goes home having benefited from their holiday as well as having had fun. Parents often remark on a growth in self-confidence, self-assurance, consideration of others, maturity, positive self-identity, improved social skills, physical and thinking skills, and positive values.

“Choosing who to send on a Superweek was a tricky task that the Headteacher and I talked about on-off for many weeks, until I realised E. in Year 5 was the perfect candidate. E. has been through a number of interventions to help her with her social skills, none of which made much difference because the problem was there just wasn’t a friend for her in her class.

Her class had been together since nursery, friendships had been secured and settled for years and E. just couldn’t find her place and she was painfully aware of that. She would tell us that she didn’t know how to be any more kind and didn’t know why she couldn’t find a friend. Nervously, her mum and I signed her up for a Superweek but we both worried that she would face the same challenges and damage her self-esteem further.

When I saw E. on 1st September, I couldn’t have wished for a better reaction from her. She BEAMED (and she is already a very smiley girl) and absolutely bubbled with all of her exciting stories and the amazing time she had. In the card she made me as a thank you she wrote about having had the best time ever, and I know that her one week finding friends and being valued will have built her defences and taught her that yes, the playground is tough and we can try and deal with that, but that the playground isn’t everything and it doesn’t have to set her expectations of herself and of what the world is like.”

(Miss L., KS2 leader)

Speaking to Chris Green, co-ordinator of the Summer Camp trust:

“I am very ready to confess that a good summer camp can be a kind of educational “con trick”. None of the staff there seem like teachers.” Chris says. “The whole atmosphere seems to say: “this is a holiday, it’s nothing like school, so just relax and have fun”, but then it gets children playing team games, doing projects together, singing, acting, making things, walking to see a castle or ancient earthwork, all as part of a fun holiday. Since children often show more enthusiasm for what is on offer at camp than they do for school lessons, they can be helped to find the fun in all these activities, and to discover new interests and talents they never thought they had. Summer camps can show children real enjoyment beyond television or computer games, and help them acquire more resources for a full and happy life, as well as a more positive attitude to all sorts of things.”

The activities provided on a Superweek are a means towards realising underlying values of community and education. ATE exists to encourage children to mix with children they wouldn’t have otherwise met and to encourage children to try activities they would otherwise avoid. Superweek staff work hard to create a community atmosphere in which children feel they can push themselves without fear of humiliation or failure.

“C. had the opportunity to be herself, away from family and friends at home. She now has the confidence of knowing that she can make friends with adults and children wherever she goes in life. She knows she can have a great time, without television, iPods, her smart phone or other gadgets. She can invent games and is up for tackling lots of new activities and opportunities in and out of school. Most of all, she had fun in a safe and nurturing environment where the children’s happiness really does come first.

“You are so brave,” said a friend, “sending your child on holiday on her own with strangers.” But I know from my own experience and now from C.’s that no one on an ATE Superweek is a stranger for long.”

(A mum, after her eldest daughter’s first (but not her last!) Superweek)

Superweeks expose children to relationships with young people who can act as role models and inspiration, and provide them with a social relationship unlike any other they would make back at home. In the Superweek environment, it is easier to facilitate the children’s appreciation of this rare opportunity for free and simple interaction. Away from the home environment this changes and children realise more of themselves than usual through social interaction with each other.

Values underpinning our work and embedded at every level of training:

  • Being non-judgmental
  • Empathy
  • Persistence and fresh chances
  • Respect
  • ‘Reach for the stars’ encouragement
  • Community
  • Inclusion
  • Educational methodologies
  • The importance of treating people as individuals
  • Being safe

We believe in, and will support, a child’s opportunity to practice independence, be themselves and discover different perspectives on life and try something completely new. ATE retains a conviction in the potential of children and stands for recognising the importance of every individual.

“They had a wonderful time!  They haven’t stopped talking about it!  Thanks so much ATE, it is hard to convey how much it means to them!  Please extend our thanks to those who fund these places because these pupils rarely go anywhere and have to cope with so much.  To have time for them and have fun is just sheer joy.

This is one bit of the job I love!  I wish you could capture the sheer elation of being told they can go and then the enthusiasm and energy when they return.”

Headteacher, using funded Superweek places to allow pupils to have a holiday in summer 2014.

As an educational body, the ATE Trust is committed to making Superweek experiences available to as many children as possible, In the absence of any Government funding, our own volunteers have moved to establish a dedicated sponsorship scheme to allow children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a Superweek, the opportunity to enjoy this unique experience and we sponsor 15% of our total intake each summer.

One teacher talked to us about what a difference this can make, “S. was going through a difficult time and what you offered her was the time and space away from her problems to be a little girl again, the pride she now takes in herself for taking on the challenge of going away and making new friendships has given her a great maturity. To be forced to do something alone and be given the support to succeed has been invaluable.”

“I have known and admired the educational thinking behind ATE for many years.  

 As a teacher and a parent it helped me realise that learning and teaching can be real fun. On the holidays I saw children show excitement and interest in activities in a way I rarely witnessed in schools. This was because of the safe, caring environment which was created, and the imaginative way in which things were presented.”   

Sir David Green KCMG, recently Director General the British Council.

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