Norwich School Blog

On My Sabbatical - Andy Fisher, Deputy Head of Outdoor Education

Last summer, a few staff members undertook a sabbatical in order to develop themselves both intellectually and personally. Norwich School would like to congratulate our staff members on partaking in such an enriching experience and it is with this that we hear from them personally about what they have learnt.

Deputy Head of Outdoor Education, Andrew Fisher, tells us about his sabbatical below;

"In May this year, I was fortunate enough to be granted a sabbatical for the second half of the Trinity term. I aimed to enhance my provision of outdoor education activities for both the Lower and Senior schools. I was given a generous sum to cover my travel and course fees, and thanks to my incredibly supportive family, I was able to extend my training into the summer break. This provided me with 12 weeks of immersive training across a range of activities. 

I began by gaining an Archery Instructor certification and my Paddlesport Instructor qualifications. Both were great fun, though I wouldn't recommend drinking from the River Wensum, which proved an unwelcome by-product of multiple capsize drills! I also quickly discovered that my 54-year-old teacher bod required a refit if I was to endure the remainder of the summer's activities!

Most of the rest of my time was spent in Snowdonia and the Lake District, where I worked towards my Mountain Leader Award. This is an ongoing aspiration, but I made good progress, summiting all of the peaks above 3000 feet in both mountain ranges. Highlights included stumbling across a herd of wild red deer in the mists of Martindale, standing above a cloud inversion on Glyder Fach and wild camping under a meteor shower near Carnedd Llewellyn. 

Lest I over-romanticise the experience, I should point out that there were also plenty of character-building lows along the way. I had to cope with a twisted ankle whilst traversing in zero visibility on the ridge of Striding Edge. I had six days and nights of unbroken rain while camping near Y Garn, and I had a close call with some particularly territorial cows near Penrith! At times the solitude during those three months was restorative, and at others, I missed human connection. At one point, I didn't see or talk to another human being for five days. In today's hyper-connected world, this is a rare experience, but one to be cherished. 

I returned from the hills 18 pounds lighter and had shed several layers of stress and mental fatigue too. To have enjoyed this experience while still relatively young and able-bodied was a blessing, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I was given. I've already started using the skills acquired in my everyday teaching practice, and I'm looking forward to expanding my role in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme this year.

As the School continues to respond to the demands of a tech-saturated education, I believe it is more important than ever that we provide our pupils with embodied learning opportunities. Some things just cannot be taught in a classroom. Dedicating time and resources to provide young people with opportunities to learn and grow holistically is more important now than ever and I hope that my sabbatical will allow me to play a part in making this vision a reality."

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