12-16

Residential Outdoor Learning Programmes for Secondary Schools (ages 12-18)

Imagine your class working together, sharing experience and strengthening their knowledge away from screens and phones, immersed in the Devon countryside. The Embercombe Education team works with teachers to design bespoke residential programmes, which at their heart provide:

  • A space for young people to stand out from the group
  • An opportunity to challenge and to question in an environment that separates them from modern distractions
  • Time to connect to the natural and farmed environment and to themselves
  • A chance to develop their ability to function as a member of the community, improving their teamwork, leadership and communication skills

At a stage where young people are being asked to make connections and integrate their learning, our programmes bring concepts taught at school to life by providing the resources and means to learn experientially.

The chance to be hands on and experiment and make links because something has been tried out and witnessed, gives pupils the opportunity at key stages to make the abstract tangible and so enhance their learning back at school.

Our Education Team will work closely with you to create programmes that are subject specific and appropriate to each key stage. Our programmes have a basic structure that can be built on, based on the bespoke needs of the school or group.

All residential programmes at Embercombe include accommodation in beautiful yurts, all meals and snacks and a full daytime and evening programme.

Our Programmes

We have two key frameworks around which we work with you to create a bespoke programme tailored to your class’s learning requirements. They are ‘Experiential Science’ and ‘Wild Journeys’ (which many teachers tailor to fit with their school’s Enrichment Week activities).

Experiential Science

Our Experiential Science programme is the perfect opportunity for students to work in different natural and farmed environments, exploring the many phenomena in the ‘educational landscape’. Our aim is to build on classroom learning, contextualising abstract concepts through hands-on activities.

These activities have been designed to complement the science curriculum thus enabling students to live the science they have studied in the classroom. The land at Embercombe becomes a laboratory where students carry out experiments, experiencing the process as scientists, where the outcome is not known and the answer is never wrong.

Activities can include:


Following the incredible life cycle of a plant and its relationship with humans and our food needs. Understand this journey through hands on experiences in our gardens, polytunnel and kitchens.

Topics covered include:

  • Photosynthesis
  • Competition
  • Adaptation and reproduction in plants
  • Relationships in an ecosystem
  • Soil health including decomposition, aerobic and anaerobic, exothermic and endothermic, reactions, pH scale and physical changes of matter
  • Food and energy including nutrition and digestion, comparing and calculating the energy value of different foods



Looking more deeply at our relationship with animals as food. Working with our Game Keeper Bob to understand the relationship between animals and the land and learning to skin and butcher wild meat. Topics covered include:

  • The skeletal and muscular systems of animals compared to human animals
  • Nutrition and digestion
  • Food security and wild meat
  • Earth as a source of limited resources and issues around sustainability
  • Ethical and moral choices, making connections articulating opinions



This fascinating and dramatic large scale science experiment explores some fundamental basics of organic chemistry following the journey from felled tree, via the charcoal burner, to freshly made fuel. Students will then use the charcoal in the forge or light a barbecue. Topics covered include:

  • The Carbon Cycle
  • Earth and atmosphere
  • Earth as a source of limited resources
  • Energy transfer and physical changes in matter and energy in matter
  • Making comparisons before and after and using reasoning skills



A large scale experiment that takes us to the woods to harvest the hazel and on to the land to dig up the clay so that together we can build the kiln that will show us the alchemy of producing quick lime and bring the lime cycle to life.Topics covered include:

  • Changes in state in terms of the particle model
  • Chemical symbols and formulae
  • Pure and impure substances
  • Energy transfer and physical changes in matter and energy in matter
  • Chemical reaction, the periodic table, the rock cycle, the carbon cycle and changes in matter



Real life application and experimentation with forces and the basic principles of physics. We work together to construct a building, animal shelter or piece of play equipment. Topics covered include:

  • Forces created from the interaction of two objects
  • Predicting how materials will act under force
  • Using force arrows in diagrams and plans
  • Energy transfer and physical changes in matter and energy in matter
  • Balanced and unbalanced forces, calculating moments, working out pressure, mass and weight, calculating and making predictions



This is a cross-curricular journey that merges more traditional science with creativity. Topics covered include:

  • Soap making
  • Paper making
  • Herbal medicine- making creams and balms and understanding how many ‘modern’ medicines derive from plants
  • Food science



Our bushcraft programme for young people centres around having fun and developing new skills, providing participants with a challenging experience that connects them with the natural world and develops a stronger bond with their peer group and engages a greater sense of self.

Students will look at sustainability from a different angle, through the chance to learn aged old skills. These are skills that develop self-reliance, confidence and resourcefulness and enable us to survive as individuals and thrive as a group.

This is a fabulous multi-day residential programme where young people can experience everything from wild camping in self-built shelters to foraging, harvesting and preparing their own meals. There are plenty of wild crafts for you to choose from including fire making and green woodworking and skills such as making and sailing a small craft across our wildlife lake. Activities can include:

  • Wild camping in self-built shelter
  • Sleeping under the stars in bivvy bags
  • Harvesting and preparing food from our land (including rabbits and squirrels!)
  • Fire making
  • Green woodworking
  • Knife skills
  • Stalking skills
  • Making and sailing rafts on the wildlife lake
  • Making fire by friction
  • Foraging for food to cook on a fire
  • Wild plant identification
  • Skinning and butchering an animal
  • Tanning a hide
  • Building a camp
  • Finding water in the landscape
  • Nature awareness and nature connection- learn to move invisibly, stalk and find your sit spot
  • Navigation (natural and conventional)
  • Wild crafts: carve a spoon or a piece of jewelry, make a basket or a natural night light, make cord out of plant fibres

This is a unique, unmissable opportunity for your young people to meet themselves in the wild.

If you would like to discuss your class’s requirements or find out more information about our programmes for primary aged children, please contact Jo Cooke or call 01647 282983


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