School catch up days

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Can we start with a brief overview of WiseUp's team building workshops and what you do?

WiseUp Team Building bring our extensive range of activity challenge days into schools, colleges and universities across the UK. Our specialist primary team building challenges for KS1 and KS2 incorporate many national curriculum aims, while also being really good fun. We also bring our exciting Assault Course into primary schools for the ultimate team challenge!

For secondary schools, WiseUp have designed several team building and problem solving activity days for KS3, KS4 and Sixth Form. Some of our challenges see student teams competing against the clock, whilst others have a strong business studies focus. WiseUp's ever popular Bushcraft Challenge has many different session levels, making is accessible to both Primary and Secondary schools.

This is just a brief snapshot of what we offer - if we went into it all, we could be here all day! Our website has a huge amount of information, videos and photos, and is the best place to go to check out what we do.

outdoor team building

A lot has changed since we last caught up with you to say the least, how have things changed for you over the last 12 months?

Things have certainly changed, that's for sure! When schools initially closed back in March 2020, it was a pretty big shock to everyone. Having as much daily contact as we do with Primary and Secondary schools, we realised the devastating impact this would have on the students. So we started work straight away to help not just our regular schools, but students around the country.

WiseUp Team Building produced several activity packs over the course of the lockdowns for teachers to use with their students, which we distributed free to every school on our system. Our staff also produced a whole range of free activity videos, which are still available on our website and Youtube channels to encourage young people to have fun while they were all at home.

Our WiseUp management team were also working really hard to adapt our team building activity days. We wanted to ensure that as soon as schools were able to have outside providers back in, we would be ready to facilitate our days as safely as possible. As a specialist education provider, we were back in schools relatively quickly.

With outdoor centres not opening until well into 2021, schools which previously would rely on the traditional annual residential trips were looking for alternative options. Add these to our already existing base of schools, and WiseUp Team Building have worked with well over 500 schools this year!

You helped a lot with the governments "Catch up days" for schools and offered vital support. Can you tell us how you helped Schools get back on track after the lockdowns?

The government's announcement of it's £700 million school catch up scheme was really welcomed by schools and a lot of them used the additional funding to run "Summer Schools" or "Catch Up Days." We helped by going into schools during the summer holidays in July and August and running our Multi Day Activity Programmes. This meant that one of our teams would be based at a school to facilitate a 2 day, 3 day, 4 day or 5 day programme of fun and exciting activities for students.

The programmes were designed to help students re-integrate back into social environments, while also allowing them to have a lot of fun after a pretty miserable year. They include a variety of our activities, such as team building and bushcraft, orienteering and archery to name just a few.

outdoor team building

Have you noticed a difference in why teachers are booking with WiseUp?

There has definitely been a shift in why teachers are asking us to come in and work with their students. Pre-pandemic, it was largely to solidify team-work skills, help fine tune communication styles and, if we are being completely honest, to tick a box for OFSTED.

Now, we are finding that the needs of the young people we work with have changed so dramatically. After long periods of isolation at home, school age children are really struggling to cope with group settings. Their emotional regulation just hasn't had that time in a school setting to mature, so they are lashing out at one another. We have had teachers phone us in tears, asking us to please come in and help their students. It's been pretty heart breaking to tell you the truth.

We genuinely believe in what we do, that the skills we teach young people benefit them in a variety of ways. As a result, WiseUp Team Building sent more teams out than ever this year, fitting in schools at short notice and adding additional year groups after other providers dropped out. Our sessions highlight the value of working together in a team, the strengths that everyone can bring to the table and how to communicate effectively, even if there is a disagreement within the team.

I understand that you have updated your primary school offer to align more closely with the curriculum. What does this entail?

Primary school is such a formative age for children. Many are socialising with others for the first time, having missed out on being able to spend time in nursery or with a childminder, or even their reception year. It is so crucial to help them develop their social skills at this young age, while also being mindful that there are certain learning outcomes that need to be focused on.

Every activity in our newest team building challenge, Mission Possible, was designed to target specific points of the KS1 and KS2 national curriculum. These range from numeracy and literacy skills to basic throwing and catching. We also arranged these activities around a fun storyline that the students really buy into. There are several variations of Mission Possible, which allows us to adapt the challenge to suit different age groups.

The response from schools to our Mission Possible day has been incredible, as the activities are accessible to students from reception age through to Year 6. Teachers really enjoy seeing their students having fun while completing the activities, and it gives them the chance to see their pupils in a whole new setting that isn't a classroom or computer screen!

outdoor team building

Are the activities now different for primary and secondary groups?

WiseUp Team Building have always adapted our team building challenges to suit the age group we are working with at a particular school on any given day. Having expanded our product base over the last few years has given schools even more options of different activity days to be run on their school site.

A large part of this expansion has been driven by schools themselves. Many of our schools love what we do so much, that they want us to work with every year group, from KS1 through to KS5. WiseUp Team Building have now developed such a great core group of challenges that every year group is covered. Our schools know that a WiseUp Team Building activity challenge day will run smoothly and efficiently, to the point where many of them won't use any other providers.

With residential centres near to capacity, WiseUp sound like a great alternative?

Having our background in outdoor centres, WiseUp Team Building were thrilled with the reopening of residential outdoor centres. The experience of staying away with classmates and taking part in activities is such a wonderful one for young people. What is so sad however, is that a number of centres have unfortunately closed as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, some perhaps forever. This means that those who were able to re-open are now finding themselves completely overbooked. With all the additional precautions needed for students to stay away overnight, centres are now operating at reduced capacities. This limits the number of students who are able to access outdoor education even more.

WiseUp Team Building's ethos has always been to make outdoor learning accessible to all. This is why we have kept our prices low, remaining the same throughout the re-opening whilst others chose to increase theirs. Bringing WiseUp onsite for an in-school residential is a much more affordable and manageable way of allowing students to take part in exciting team building and problem solving challenges. By remaining on the school site, teachers don't have to take the risk of piling groups of students onto small busses, which in itself is not only a headache but also not ideal in the current climate.

We bring all of the equipment needed to run challenging, enjoyable and educational activity days in schools. Our team arrive in the morning to set up and leave after packing everything away at the end of the day. By following the principles of Leave No Trace, we aim to leave school sites in the same if not better condition than when we arrived.

What space do Schools need to book you in, do they need a large playing field?

A large playing field is always the ideal space to run a team building activity day, as it allows students a bit more space to spread out. We know that a lot of schools don't always have access to a large field however, whether it's being used by the PE department, has building work going on or they simply don't have one. That is not a problem for us!

Our activity equipment has been designed to work in any kind of space and on any kind of surface. From grass to astro turf, concrete to wood and carpet, WiseUp's kit is multi-use and non-invasive, and can be used indoors as well as outside. We regularly run events in gyms, sports halls, auditoriums, classrooms, even an empty swimming pool!

We don't let a lack of space stop us. WiseUp Team Building run our problem solving and bushcraft activities at many schools in city centres with limited access to outdoor space. A small nook under a stairwell, a rooftop terrace, or a long wider corridor - these are all activity spaces to our staff!

Finally, does WiseUp Team Building have any exciting plans for the year ahead?

WiseUp always has new ideas and plans in the pipeline, that's one of the ways we have maintained our position as one of the most recommended outdoor providers within school circles. Our staff love a good challenge and creating new ones for Primary and Secondary schools is always really good fun. We have a few new activities which we may be introducing over the coming months, although for now the details are top secret!

There are also a few new faces at our WiseUp Base in Kent as we expand our carefully chosen management team. This will mean we are still providing the high standard of personal communication with teachers that our schools have come to know and appreciate.

WiseUp Team Building have not only survived the COVID 19 pandemic, we are now working with more schools than ever before to bring outdoor activities and team building challenges to primary and secondary students all over the UK. We cannot wait to see what the new year will bring!

If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how WiseUp can help you with planning your next school visit then why not get in touch here.

In School Activity Days
In School Activity Days
In School Activity Days

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