Duke of York's Royal Military School

‘I Am Brave, I Am Fierce, I’ve Got This.’

Published on isbi School News dated Thursday 1st of June 2023

For many pupils at , the residential trips are the first time away from home. But within the safety of the Clock House family, adventures allow them to grow in confidence, skills and resilience – and, for some, make go carts at 5am!
It was 5am and I was awakened by a rumble. Slightly disorientated, I strained my ears and tried to work out what it could be: thunder perhaps? It sounded a little too ‘indoors’ for that. As I shoved on my dressing gown and slippers, the rumble reached a crescendo accompanied by a stifled guffaw. I was sure it was mischief and headed for the room next door. Despite the wholehearted assurances that the ten boys ‘sleeping’ there would stay in bed until 7am, they had found their own fun: a go cart made of an under-bed drawer and were enjoying a race around the dorm. It took a few minutes to persuade them back to bed, all the while hiding an amused grin and doing my best to show a mildly disappointed approach. I’m sure that just being together, playing cards in the dorm and, maybe, some harmless mischief was as much part of the experience as the scheduled activities.

As we sat in a circle playing ‘Go Fish’, Daya, who joined Clock House in January, said: “I’ve never been on a residential before, I’ve made friends with people I wouldn’t normally play with.” His comment was met with resounding nods of agreement, even from long-standing pupils, and that was one of the things that made the 5am start well worth it! Despite the breakfast yawns from staff and pupils alike, we were soon ready for another day of adventure together.

This year, I’ve been lucky enough to join two of our residentials: Year 3 and Year 5 (all our pupils from Year 2 have the opportunity to go annually). I love these visits because it allows me to see the children in a new light, out of the classroom and, to a certain extent, looking after themselves. The opportunity for building positive relationships is endless. I rarely teach Year 3 but after watching them hike five miles on little legs, I know they’re determined. Watching Taha exclaim: “I am brave, I am fierce, I’ve got this,” filled me with joy as the children reached the pinnacle of their walk. A game of hide and seek on a windswept hill, ducking behind enormous boulders made it worthwhile for the children and I was overcome with pride at their ‘Hoc Age’ (just do it!) spirit.

While many schools were undergoing preparation for SATs, we were fortunate to offer a haven from the pressures faced. Our focus is on developing the whole child throughout the year and that doesn’t just mean in the classroom. Our residential visits enhance the curriculum for the whole school and in a time ‘post lockdown’ they’ve never been so valuable. For many of our children it’s the first time away from home but still in the nurturing arms of their Clock House family. With people they trust, the children get to experience all sorts of firsts and find skills and resolve they didn’t know they had. They are resourceful, resilient, and kind young people.

As we sat in our pyjamas with hot chocolate, I asked our Year 5 children to share a moment another pupil made them proud. It was the unplanned that brought joy, not just to the staff but to the children, the spontaneous applause about how Sebastian helped Jack when he hurt his ankle or the whoops and cheers that, upon seeing her struggling, David gave Hadia a piggyback up a hill that would test most adults. The children supported each other and celebrated this more than the obvious success.

The children do cross piranha pools, climb a telegraph pole to do a leap of faith, and rope together canoes so they won’t fall in before leaping overboard just for fun. These are the memories they come home and share with their families but, as teachers, we see it a little differently. We notice they demonstrate initiative to work out wellies are the best footwear for a river walk, we see them coach their friend through a moment of fear and we watch their faces fill with pride as they realise they can achieve things they didn’t think were possible.

And while some get to test their handmade go kart skills at 5am – we can’t be too cross. We get to see their faces fill with pride as they realise they can achieve things they didn’t think were possible. It makes the early starts worth every moment when they go on to say: “I got this”.

“Our focus is on developing the whole child throughout the year and that doesn’t just mean in the classroom.”

Felicity Robertshaw-Hughes, Junior Deputy Head

‘I Am Brave, I Am Fierce, I’ve Got This.’ - Photo 1‘I Am Brave, I Am Fierce, I’ve Got This.’ - Photo 2‘I Am Brave, I Am Fierce, I’ve Got This.’ - Photo 3
Grace Education