As a part of the Mennasian education here at St Francis Xavier’s Catholic College, Year 7 pupils attended a retreat on Monday 24th September 2023 to Friday 29th September 2023 delivered by a local community interest company, Woodlay Wellbeing.

This took the form of Forest school, allowing Year 7 to step out of the normal business of daily school life and take a moment to reflect on more meaningful ideas of belonging and community as part of their transition from Primary to Secondary education.

Each form group completed the retreat with their Form Tutor and teacher of Religious Education. With expert guidance and leadership from our lead on outdoor learning (Mr G Shutt and Francesca Signore Forest School Leaders).

George and Harry W in 7 Kemble provided some reflection on their retreat week saying “We enjoyed Forest School because we were able to learn new skills in the outdoors like making smores and hanging hammocks. We had fun learning with our form teacher, and spending the week with our classmates.”

The retreat consisted of a visit to Woolton Woods/Camp Hill. A whole Year’s Mass, that provided the boy’s with their first experience of liturgy at the college.

By the end of the sessions, Pupils saw benefits in; Emotional and social development, Physical Development, well-being and Intellectual Development.

Our School Chaplin Mr Garnett shared his thoughts on Forest School.

“A truly fantastic week of building relationships and awareness of the importance of friendships, acknowledging change and remembering to have fun.  Each form group, their form tutor and their teacher of Religious Education were guided and supported in stepping out of the normal routines of the school day and truly got “lost” on retreat despite only being in a local park – it felt like another world for the duration of the camp and the sense of community and belonging where tremendous.  Sitting around the campfire, enjoying each other’s company and developing skills be it hanging a hammock or lighting a fire.  Each retreat allowed each individual time to self-direct and reflect on their own thoughts or how they were in relationship with those around them.  Boys were so receptive and respectful and followed the minimal rules in place to ensure everyone’s safety.  They thoroughly enjoyed the experience and their retreat ended in time back around the fire circle and they each took the time to express how the time away from school had benefited them.  On the return to College many of the boys were very vocal in how much they had enjoyed the opportunity to go on retreat.  They have been beautifully mannerful in thanking Ms. Hutcheon for organising and they all signed cards and thanked Ged, Fru and Laura for leading and facilitating their retreat sessions.   Images from the week have been displayed on College social media and the Chaplaincy social media.”



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