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Year 8 enjoy an action-packed visit to PGL Liddington

Posted on: 20/07/2018

Last weekend I had the unrivalled delight of accompanying 96 Year 8 girls and 11 members of staff to PGL Liddington. I had never been to PGL before so I was curious as well as cautious at the prospect of nearly 100 of the Year Group being dangled in the air while abseiling, zip-lining and hurling themselves onto a trapeze. Fortunately and unsurprisingly the girls were magnificent from start to finish and I was proud of them throughout.

We left shortly after school finished on Friday, 13th July (unlucky for some, but not for us, although the weather did take a turn for the concerning) and split into two coaches. My understanding is that Coach 1 was the undisputed ‘party coach’ despite Mr Dingley’s best efforts on Coach 2. Upon arrival the girls were well organised and sorted out the basics of their rooms with minimal fuss so we could get on with the important business of running around and exhausting them. Our Friday evening activity was ‘Passport Around the World’ where teams had to work together to find questions, answer them and run back. Whilst Miss Malta and Miss Druce deserve special recognition for literally running every step with their group the victory eventually went to Miss Edwards and Mrs Kennedy’s group who instantly named themselves ‘The Smarties’. My group, Group 1 aka ‘Alpha Pack’, had work to do. That evening was spent acclimatising to the beautiful surroundings, playing football and Frisbee and investigating the vending machines. The girls went to bed excited and not as tired as the staff had perhaps imagined they would be.

The next day had an excellent range of activities; we went on the Giant Swing, did an obstacle course, played Aeroball (imagine one-on-one basketball on a trampoline, now add excited teenage girls hurling beanbag balls at each other: this is Aeroball), and finally climbed a high pole before jumping onto a trapeze. It is important to note that Milly Montgomery managed to capture a brilliant photo of Sarah-Jane mid-leap which I am saving for an assembly in the future- thank you Milly! I was incredibly proud of how the groups worked together, supported each other and of how so many girls pushed themselves to try things they were initially frightened by. Special commendation should go to Holly Ballantyne who had to accompany me on the Giant Swing and not laugh at my excited cheering and yelling; she did so with good humour and a big smile- well done, Holly! We ate well, we exchanged stories about the day, and had a lot of fun before heading down to the disco. Year 8 can move! I had thought I had seen everything until I saw so many of our group, staff and students alike, participating fervently in ‘YMCA’. There was an impromptu game of piggy in the middle (with around 40 pigs) and a tennis ball where many of the girls showed fierce determination and almost inexplicable energy levels. We grouped together for a sunset pep talk before retiring for bed ready for the final day.

Sunday brought more good organisation from the girls as we prepared for packing before heading out on our final four activities. The PGL team said they’d never seen a secondary school so well-organised in terms of lining up, listening and being where they were meant to be, on time every time (I may have boasted of our high standards at DGS but I think the girls deserve to be boasted about). Our activities were orienteering (Carys Sharp made it look easy and did the whole course in record time), the zipline, abseiling and the sensory trail. The latter activity involved blindfolding the students and asking them to work as a team as they stepped over hurdles, ducked under tyres and walked through ‘mud’ which was in fact part of an old mattress. This activity was a firm favourite of the staff as we observed, laughed and tormented in equal measure. Once again, fantastic teamwork was on display in all groups and I had several moments of enormous pride in how our girls do what they do. We had our final PGL meal, packed up the coach and left, exhausted, slightly sun-kissed and very happy indeed.

I couldn’t ask for more from a group of young people as a Head of Year; well done girls! It’s important that I thank Sarah-Jane, Miss Carter, Mrs Kennedy, Mrs Lawrence, Mr Dingley, Miss Malta, Miss Druce, Miss Nichols, Mrs Reynolds, Miss Edwards and Miss Blake for dedicating their weekend to supporting Year 8 have such a fantastic time. This being said, having seen some of the photos and videos of the activities, I hope and believe that the staff enjoyed themselves too!

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