What skills will the students learn during their stay?

An almost endless amount of new skills will be learnt on the course. The core skills that we base the course around however are those of critical-thinking, the ability to embrace challenge and change, and the ability to collaborate and work as a team. In addition, the students will learn to work independently towards a goal or project, to research and present a broad range of ideas and opinions and to find creative ways of demonstrating and reflecting upon their learning. The skills we focus on during the course are ones that will set the students apart from their peers as they progress through the school system and onto university. Most education systems focus on so-called ´hard skills´, traditional academic-focused skills of information retention and analysis. Though useful, it is the students that can go beyond these skills by developing a creative approach to problem solving and a propensity towards innovation that will truly be take their education to the next level. 

My child is not very independent; will they be able to cope?

Aysgarth is the perfect place for a student to develop their independence. The campus itself is safe and easy to navigate and during the camp and there are always plenty of members of staff on hand to point people in the right direction. In addition to this, one of the biggest barriers to independence is confidence, something which we help to develop during the course.

Can a student do just one or two weeks?

We do not recommend that anybody does one week only – this is simply not enough time for the objectives of the course to be achieved. The course is available as either a two- or four-week course. However we would encourage students applying to Open Minds to choose the four-week option as our modules are designed to complement and develop the themes over the four week period, building on the ideas discussed in the previous modules.

How many hours of class are there each day?

There are three hours of classroom-based teaching in the morning Monday to Friday.

Will my child be lonely?

It is very unlikely that your child will be lonely during their time at Aysgarth. The students are so busy every day and always surrounded by people. Clearly whenever a child is away from home there is potential for homesickness but the staff team is exceptionally caring and is very good at noticing and responding to situations such as this.

What do the students do in the afternoons?

The students can choose to participate in any of the Learn and Experience afternoon activities. These involve a fantastic array of different options that fall broadly into three categories: Creative, Adventure, and Sport. In addition, the Open Minds students will have the chance to use some of their afternoons to extend the work they are covering during the morning sessions. This could mean some extra time to practise a performance, research for a project or do some extra reading around the themes being studied. All of this supervised and supported by the Open Minds tutors.

Are course materials supplied?

Yes, all materials for the academic course are provided.

What is the Wilderness Experience?

The Wilderness Experience is an integral part of the learning that takes place on the course. The students have the opportunity to sleep outside in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, learn some survival skills, and challenge themselves to experience a completely new type of challenge. There will be supporting activities in the lead up to the experience and the students will be expected to reflect on the ways in which the challenge had made them think differently about the themes learnt during the course. 

Where are the other students from?

The course attracts a diverse range of students from all over the world. This includes native and non-native English speakers. Students will take part in lessons and activities with a mix of international and British students. The common language used on the course is always English.

Are there English Classes?

Open Minds has a different approach to the more traditional language summer camps in that we don’t run formal English classes. Instead, the Open Minds approach develops the students language skills using real-world activities such as drama, film-making, discussion and debate, research skills and collaborative, project-based learning. The idea is that it is a completely new and unique approach to learning and one that is fun and engaging for teenagers whilst challenging them to think in new ways. All of this will, of course, improve the students’ language skills dramatically but through a completely different approach.

What English level do you need to have?

We cater for all levels. The students will complete a short test on arrival to put them into the correct level. There are two levels, one for intermediate up to native-level, and one for intermediate down to elementary. The classes will be structured in such a way as to make sure learners of all levels get the most possible out of their experience. 

Who looks after the students at night and during the weekends?

Everyone in our incredible team of teachers performs both a residential and a pastoral role during the course. Each house has a designated ‘house parent’ who will be a point of contact for the students, though all of our staff- including the Course Director- are available to support students at all times for the duration of the course.

What are the rules at the summer camp?

Our one fundamental rule is to be kind and respectful to others at all times. All other rules stem from that and as long as we stick to that one everything runs smoothly with happy staff and happy students!

What is the food like?

Very good! Well, we would say that wouldn’t we but honestly – it is! We have children attending from all over the world and so we try to cater for everyone’s tastes and requirements. With plenty of excellent and nutritious food to choose from, we have a salad/cold food bar with all mealtimes and also provide delicious vegetarian alternatives. We can also offer Halal meat. Please see sample menu.

What is the style of the accommodation and how do you decide who shares with whom?

The accommodation is dormitory style and the rooms usually sleep between 2 and 6 children.  The rooms are homely and cosy and can be personalised with a duvet cover from home. We will ensure that children of the same age and gender are put together and we will try and split up all the nationalities so that everyone is speaking English!!

If my child has medical needs or dietary requirements how are these catered for?

Before your child arrives at camp we will ask you to fill in a form which will ask such thing as medical conditions, dietary requirements and any other important information with regards your child. We have many years experience in working with various medical issues and dietary needs. We have a Camp Nurse/Matron always on-site to administer any medication and to deal with any medical emergencies that may occur. We also have other medically trained members of staff.  We also have access 24/7 to the L&E Doctor who is always able to advise if a situation occurs.

The schools we use for our camps have their own well trained kitchen staff who are able to deal with any dietary requirements your child may have.

Will you send a packing list and more detailed information?

At least a  month before your child arrives at camp we will send you a Parent/Child Handbook.  This will include a  packing list which will act as a guide.  It is best to pack for all types of weather as it can be very changeable in the UK. We ask that you don’t pack anything too expensive and that you name all items of clothes, this helps us get all the ‘lost’ clothes back to their owners! It will also include a lot of things that will help you prepare for camp.  See a previous year’s copy to give you an idea

How do we get children to and from camp?

There are 2 main ways.

  1. You can either bring them directly to camp (usually from 5pm on the starting Sunday). You are invited to share a BBQ or Afternoon Tea (depending on the weather!). It’s a also a good chance to see the venue and meet the staff for peace of mind. Pickup is before 12pm on the final Saturday.
  2. Send them on a flight or train and we’ll pick them up from the suggested Airports or at the train station.

Manchester Airport (Preferred airport)

  • Arrival between 12pm – 3pm on the first Sunday
  • Departure between 1400 – 1700 on the final Saturday

London Heathrow (Limited space)

  • Arrival between 1000 – 1300 on the first Sunday
  • Departure between 1500 – 1800 on the final Saturday

Northallerton Train Station (Direct service London Kings Cross St Pancras – 2 hours)

  • Arrival between 1600 – 1800 on the first Sunday
  • Departure between 1000 – 1200 on the final Saturday

Can my child bring a device?

Yes.  However, all devices will be stored safely with us upon arrival.  The children will have access to their devices after evening meal every day and at weekends. (See below)

Is there a time when I can contact my child?

There is half an hour set aside each day in which you can contact your child (Usually after the evening meal – 6.30pm).  If  your child doesn’t bring a phone with them you can call the Camp Director who will help you reach your child. Of course if there is an emergency, or you need to contact your child out-with those times you will have the contact details of the Camp Director who will assist you.

Is there an opportunity for my child to have some laundry done?

Yes, we will endeavour to give the children the opportunity to have their laundry done at least once (usually at the middle weekend) during their 2 weeks. We have a matron who will also wash things during the week if things get particularly muddy or wet.

What if I have more questions?

Please schedule a call-back at a convenient time for yourself.  We’ll be happy to discuss all aspects of Open Minds with you. You could also send us an e-mail any time at openminds@learnandexperience.com

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