A DEPARTMENT at a Llandudno college has been issued with a prestigious award, becoming one of just three UK schools to have received it.
The Outdoor Education Department at St David’s College recently earned ‘Gold Standard’, which represents the highest award for quality outdoor education provision and outdoor learning.
This followed a period of rigorous inspection by the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC).
A college spokesperson said: “We always knew that St David’s Outdoor Education Department and our instructors are world-class, but to have it confirmed by the AHOEC is a wonderful achievement.”
In total, the inspection process looks in-depth at 55 different areas of how outdoor education operates – from safety to facilities, to quality of teaching, and everything in-between.
On a scale of one to five (with five being excellent), St David’s scored five in all but one of the 55 areas of inspection (which was awarded a four).
The Gold Standard is AHOEC’s quality scheme, developed to go beyond the levels set by standard regulations, such as the ‘LOtC Quality Badge’, ‘Adventure Mark’ and ‘AALA’.
The inspection and assessment encompass not just safety but also the quality of teaching, facilities, and educational aims.
The inspectors said: “The facilities in the Outdoor Education Department are excellent and a facility that would be the envy of many establishments.”
On the quality of the lesson they observed, they added: “It was an excellent session, with particular attention paid to good questioning technique and a good balance of practical and classroom-based work.”
The process has involved a long-term analysis of the quality of the entire Outdoor Education provision at St David’s, not just the delivery of lessons.
As well as ensuring compliance with the AHOEC professional code of conduct, the Gold Standard award ensures high standards in learning and development, customer care, safety management, facilities, leadership and management, and environmental sustainability, as well as ensuring the process of continuous improvement.
Head of outdoor education, Ian Martin, said: “We’re delighted to receive the recognition of the Gold Award from AHOEC.
“It’s a testament to the dedication, commitment, and quality of the teachers in the department and a real vote of confidence for parents, whose children will be benefiting from what we offer here.
“Outdoor education is embedded in the founding ethos of St David’s College, so we’ve all felt very proud to showcase what we do to the inspection team and the wider world.”