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January 12, 2011

Wednesday 12th January 2011 – Year Four are back from Stubbington

Filed under: School Trips & Visits,Year 3-4 @ 9:38 am

Monday was the Year 4 children’s first proper day back at school, as for the whole of last week they were enjoying their very first residential stay just down the road at Stubbington Study Centre.  There, plenty of outdoor learning took place, and even the rainy weather didn’t stop us from taking part in a fun-packed programme of geographic, scientific and team-building activities.   Below is a blow-by-blow account of our memorable stay:

Day 1 – Tuesday 4th January

Day one largely concentrated on the children settling in.  They met the staff, were shown their beds and the facilities in their accommodation, unpacked and enjoyed a guided tour of the centre including the adventure playground and recreational areas. During a talk in the Great Chamber, they learnt that the key values at Stubbington are TEAMWORK, RESPECT and RESPONSIBILITY.  There was a lot to take in considering it was the first day back after our Christmas break; however, everyone coped admirably and there was a buzz of excitement in the air as the children got to know their new surroundings.  We were very proud of how quickly the children settled and began mixing with the children from Charles Dickens School who were staying there at the same time.

After our first huge lunch (sausage rolls, fish fingers or baked potatoes) and the children’s first trip to the tuck shop, it was time for us to get a better sense of our location with a walk cross-country from the site to the beach at Lee-on-Solent.  From there, we walked West along the beach, making note of the Isle of Wight, and the town of Lee-on-Solent to our East.  At Hill Head, we stopped to search for lucky stones, bivalve shells (such as cockles, mussels and oysters) and slipper shells.

Continuing on, we looked for seals in the sea and were lucky enough to see a cormorant perched on a post (a really unusual sighting!).  We finally reached Titchfield Haven at the mouth of the River Meon, where we identified other birdlife including swans, mallards, pochards (ducks with reddish heads) and tufted ducks. 

Upon our return to the centre, the children had their first experience of recreation time during which they showed their responsibility and were given free reign of the dormitories, hard court, tennis court, adventure playground, field and games room (complete with arcade games, table tennis and pool tables!).  Again, we were proud to witness our children behaving impeccably, showing good manners and thoughtfulness towards others. 

It was soon clear that we weren’t going to go hungry during our stay at Stubbington.  In the Snuffle Hole (so-called because badgers snuffle for their food), children were allowed second helpings at dinner times to sustain them through the evening activities.  First up each day was a classroom session where they reflected on their day and wrote a diary entry of their highlights.  Next was an evening activity, which on day one involved learning all about badgers via a talk in the Great Chamber.  Next up – supper!  Milk and biscuits signalled the start of the bedtime routine at Stubbington.  Children had their showers and some quiet time.  On the first evening it was the boys’ turn to go down to the hide to watch out for badgers.  Sadly, there were no sightings this time, but the Sett dorm were lucky enough to see a fox.

Day 2 – Wednesday 5th January

After a lovely long lie-in until 8am, the children were challenged to get dressed and be ready for breakfast each day at 8:20am.  Every day, the children had a choice of cereal, toast and cooked breakfast to set them up for the day.  A dorm inspection followed:  the children had to make sure that their beds were made and that their wardrobes, the washroom and drying room were tidy.  Mr Scarborough was the chief inspector and issued points out of 20 for their efforts.  The dorm leaders also had to issue the children a mark out of 5 for how well they settled at night, and how organised and sensible they were in the morning.

The first session of day 2 was spent either doing ‘Earthquake’ or a mapping activity and a bird watching activity.  The children then swapped over and did the remaining activities the following afternoon. 

Earthquake was a fantastic opportunity for the children to demonstrate their teamwork qualities.  Miss Pearmain, Mrs Davey and Mrs Harris were extremely impressed with the way the children overcame any fears, helped each other and co-operated in order to rescue earthquake victims.  The obstacle course that they had to complete was very challenging and involved lots of climbing and scrambling, and a big swing across water to reach the end.  It was so much fun.

During the bird watching activity, the children learnt how to identify different birds and found out some of the reasons for different shaped beaks, feet, body shapes and sizes.  With a bird identification sheet to help, we then went to the hide with our monoculars and watched to see which birds are common at Stubbington, and whether there are any food preferences out of bread, nuts, seeds and insects/worms on the ground.  We saw robins, blue tits, great tits, magpies and blackbirds to name but a few.  Our observations continued in the grounds where I was very impressed with the children’s ability to move quietly and look carefully, although in the first place some of the children forgot to look up often enough as they became engrossed in looking for evidence of badgers!

The mapping activity really tested the children’s logistical skills.  Having learnt a bit more about map reading, orientation and using keys, the children were sent out in pairs into the grounds to find ten different numbered locations one at a time.  In each location was a blue plastic tag with the name of a bird.  Personally, I have to admit to being a little nervous about sending them out into the grounds unattended as some of the locations were well into the conservation area or right up at the northern perimeter of the site.  However, once again, they did us proud.  They took good notice of the safety rules and the problem-solving advice should they get lost, and all groups returned regularly to base for each of their locations to be checked.  The grins on their faces said it all!  This time, Bea and Lydia were the champions, collecting all ten bird names with plenty of time to spare – who knew their cross-country training would come in useful in this capacity?!

Wednesday afternoon involved both groups learning about mammals at Stubbington.  They thought about the types of signs there might be in the grounds that evidenced mammals, and went out to the conservation area detecting these.  The children showed exceptional observational skills, and the damp weather didn’t quench anyone’s enthusiasm.  They found deer tracks, rabbit droppings, badger and fox holes, snuffle holes, scratched logs and remains of nuts.  Squirrels were seen in the ground, and one small group even saw a deer!

Next, it was time to prepare the mammal hotels that would help us to study small mammals from the grounds more closely.  We were looking to encourage mice and voles into our hotels, and the children had to think carefully about what might be needed to make the hotels comfortable and safe for these animals.  The metal containers were stuffed with straw and pieces of apple and seeds were added.  Then, in their given ‘resort’ area of the conservation area, the hotels were placed in a plastic pipe for protection and the children camouflaged them with leaves, twigs and feathers.

On Wednesday evening we were lucky enough to be visited by wildlife photographer Eric Bright who has a long association with the Centre.  He delivered a stunning slide show of his photographs and told some incredible stories of his escapades with wildlife, including the time he saw a squirrel swimming and the time he tamed a robin until it even took a worm from his mouth!

Tonight it was the girls’ turn to go to the hide before bed to watch for badgers.  Unfortunately, although they were extremely quiet and vigilant, there were no sightings at all which was a bit disappointing.  Meanwhile, the boys took part in an inter-dorm game of indoor golf, the highlight of which was when Peter got a hole in one!

After such a chock-a-block day of activities, most children (and staff) were asleep as soon as their heads touched the pillows…

Day 3 – Thursday 6th January

Day 3 began with much excited chatter over breakfast as to what might have come to stay in the mammal hotels.  The children didn’t have to wait long before, dressed from head to toe in waterproofs due to the driving rain, they returned to their hotel resorts and retrieved their mammal hotels.  If the door was closed, it was really likely that they had a resident!

Back at the classrooms, the hotels were emptied and the residents were studied carefully to work out the species and likely age.   The weight of the first rodent was compared to a mini-pack of Haribo then measured accurately in grams using a spring balance.  The tail and body was measured and the children learnt how to distinguish a male from a female.  It was discovered that group A had a long-tailed field mouse and a yellow necked mouse, and group B had four long-tailed field mice in their hotels!  Once the mice had been named and placed in a large container with more food, the children were able to photograph them, observe them more closely, sketch and label the mice.  What an amazing experience!

After lunch, the groups took part in either Earthquake or bird watching and mapping.  It was still pouring with rain, but as they say, there is no such thing as bad weather – just bad clothing – and luckily the centre had enough waterproof coats, trousers and wellies to ensure everyone was protected.  This time, the mapping winners were Zac and Bradley W.  The recording sheets were soggy, but the children were still smiling!  The bird watchers saw many magpies and chaffinches in the ground as the weather cleared a little.  Earthquake participants showed great determination as they traversed the obstacle course in such adverse conditions. 

Our final evening involved a game of ‘Stubbington Murder’.  Finally the children could make good use of the torches they had bought!  The rain had stopped by now and out we went again into the grounds.  The challenge was for the children to find various monsters which were hiding in and around the field and to determine their alibi to work out the Stubbington Murderer.  Huggers were available to be with those who didn’t wish to take part. 

Before bed, games of indoor skittles were played in the dorms in an attempt to win more bonus points.  After all this excitement we were all well and truly ready for bed and everyone slept right up until the morning bell at 8am. 

Day 4 – Friday 7th January

The final morning came around all too quickly and many children couldn’t believe that it was already time to think about packing ready for home.  Before breakfast, beds were stripped and the dorms inspected.  Mr Scarborough was very impressed with how efficiently the children completed this task, and top scores were issued.  After breakfast, the drying and washing rooms were cleared and the children packed their bags.  In most cases this was done incredibly well with clothes folded and lists ticked off.  For others this was a bit more of a struggle, and a good lesson in taking responsibility for possessions, and how to fit lots into a small space!

Our final activity was called ‘Stubbington Fox’.  In the Great Chamber, we learnt more about foxes and thought about the way foxes behave.  Then it was time for the children to think and move like foxes to get away from Farmer Davey and Farmer Milne in the conservation area.  The most successful foxes were extremely cunning and found ways to hide in ditches and bushes; those that were caught most often, however, gave themselves away by being too noisy or not looking out well enough for the farmers!  This was a fantastic way to finish our stay.  Congratulations to Sam C and Brandon H who were the wiliest of foxes and won this challenge hands down.

After our last big lunch and dessert, certificates were issued to the girls in the Drey dorm who won the week-long dorm challenge by just one point.  Then, sadly, it was time for us to load the coach and wave goodbye.  Foxy fox made a guest appearance on the coach just before we left and before we knew it we were back at school and our adventure was all over. 

This was a fantastic residential which provided the children (and school staff!) with many lasting memories.  The amount the children learned about wildlife, map reading and teamwork in these four days is phenomenal and will last them a lifetime.  Of course, there was also a lot of learning on a personal level for the children as they all realised that they could spend four days away from home and cope with all the practical, emotional and social challenges this brings.  We saw a positive change in all of the children as they proved that they could be responsible and independent.  Thank you Year 4 for such a wonderful trip – you were a credit to BWJS and to yourselves.

(Report by Mrs Milne)


  1. I really liked Stubbington, even though we didn’t see any badgers.

      Jennifer — February 20, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  2. I forgot we did all that stuff.

      Mia — February 20, 2012 @ 10:33 am

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