FIVE courageous Senior students have returned from a remote mountain refuge in Morocco after a successful summit attempt of Mount Toubkal in the High Atlas – North Africa’s greatest mountain range.

During the school holidays, the team spent five days nestled below the slopes of the mountain, learning how to use ice axes and crampons and practicing essential mountaineering skills such as movement on hard neve snow. Negotiating scree, ice and steep snow, they successfully reached the summit on January 2 in just under five hours. After their descent, the cultural adventure continued from the busy and vibrant city of Marrakesh.

The students’ inspirational start to 2016 was facilitated by the school’s Ely Scheme – a unique programme that aims to build important life skills that cannot always be taught in the classroom.

While most independent schools have an outdoor pursuits programme, the Ely Scheme is both unique and central to the whole King’s Ely experience, as young people are given tangible opportunities to push themselves to achieve beyond anything they ever thought possible. This concept forms the bedrock of King’s Ely ethos and values.

The aim is to develop each individual student through outdoor education and adventurous activity, concentrating on eight major elements: personal skills; self-confidence; teamwork; leadership skills; social and environmental awareness; problem solving; ability to cope with difficult situations; and healthy respect for nature and the outdoors.

Sophie Cheng, Director of Outdoor Education, said: “At King’s Ely, we teach a progressive programme of outdoor education, beginning with a year of activities and camps in Year 9. The programme focuses on delivering technical skills and knowledge within mountaineering, rock climbing and kayaking at a pace suitable for each individual. In Year 11, the students have the opportunity to become instructors themselves, becoming inspiration role models for those starting the scheme in Year 9.”

Sophie added: “As all of our expeditions and trips are facilitated in-house, we can provide consistent, long-term training and development for our pupils, as our team of staff and instructors know each member’s strengths and abilities prior to undertaking any of our expeditions.”

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