Invergarven School Parent Council

Invergarven School in Girvan, South Ayrshire is a specialist school catering for pupils with a wide range of additional support needs. Sixteen pupils attend the school, ranging in age from five to nineteen years. 

Invergarven is committed to ensuring that every pupil is encouraged to reach his or her fullest potential, whatever that might be.  The school aims to provide education of the highest quality to meet the learning needs of each individual pupil and the aspirations of parents, staff and the local community. 

In 2011, Invergarven School Parent Council was awarded £11, 502 from Carrick Futures over three years towards ‘Journeys of Discovery’.

Journeys of Discovery, delivered by the Adventure Centre for Education (ACE), was a project designed to engage pupils in a rich variety of outdoor activities.

Established in 2005, ACE is a local independent charity which specialises in using the power of sport to broaden the visions and aspirations of people of all ages and levels of skill. 

The project ran for three years from 2012 to 2014. Invergarven and ACE worked together and scheduled in ten days throughout each school year to offer pupils a wide range of exciting and stimulating outdoor activities suited to their individual needs and skills. 

Pupils were split into two groups, based on age and ability with the younger group focussing on a more sensory approach to outdoor activities and older pupils taking on more physical and challenging tasks. 

The younger group enjoyed a range of activities based at Culzean Castle, such as creating giant nests, building shelters from natural resources         and incorporating maths by doing sorting activities with various materials, colours and textures.

Activities for older pupils took place in a variety of different locations and included; bush craft, hill walking, abseiling, canoeing, gorge walking and extreme rock pooling. Each one presented the youngsters with a range of challenges and required them to develop their problem solving and team building skills. The sense of achievement and satisfaction on overcoming these challenges was described as “incredible!”  

John, an older pupil at Invergarven said, “It was great stuff. I went in the freezing cold sea six times! It made me feel great, I just loved how I looked in the wetsuit too.”

William added, “My favourite activity was abseiling as I have never done anything like it before – it was great!”

Journeys of Discovery opened a door to a new world of outdoor experiences; introducing new skills, confidences and abilities that many youngsters simply didn’t realise they had.  They learned the importance of working together as a team; trusting and listening to one another. Many individuals also overcame personal physical barriers.

Russell said, “I felt really brave and proud of myself.” 

As well as developing their physical skills and strengths, Journeys of Discovery also helped teach moral values such as respect and honesty, which is part of the Invergarven School Vision. The project helped pupils understand that these values are important not only at school, but at home, in the playground and in the community too. 

Staff, parents and multi agency workers have commented on the impact the project has had on pupils; building on skills, extending vocabulary, generating excitement in leaning, building relationships with peers and creating trust in one another.

In the second and third year of Journeys of Discover, ACE encouraged pupils to push themselves and their confidence into trying new activities and introduced additional skills and techniques. ACE also contributed towards some senior pupils participating in the specific criteria to achieve their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award – when they planned and ventured out on an outdoor, overnight expedition. 

Year on year, staff noticed that pupils tended to become more confident and more engaged in each activity, particularly pupils who were more hesitant in the beginning. 

Through Journeys of Discovery, pupils were given the opportunity to learn lots of new practical skills and enjoy some exhilarating experiences, but also got to develop essential life skills and values that will allow them to continue to grow and achieve their potential. 

Jane Gordon, Head Teacher at Invergarven School said, "The Journeys of Discovery project has provided wonderful opportunities for our whole school community, to enhance their learning in the great outdoors. Every pupil in the school has been involved in the project. Our partnership with ACE has grown from strength to strength throughout the three year programme, helping our children and young people reach their full potential. Every pupil has overcome personal barriers and challenges to participate in a range of activities, having a positive and significant impact on their learning, behaviour and motivation. We look forward to being involved in further projects with ACE in the future."