Winter residentials at GWC

In December 2023, Petersfield Church of England Primary School came to visit us for their year 5 and 6 residentials. Read about why they love GWC in the winter below!

Our last two residential visits for our year 5 and 6 pupils have been to Grafham Water Centre in December.  Whilst at any time of year GWC provides fantastic opportunities for activities, team work, skill building and fun, in our opinion, it is the very best time of year to visit! 

There are so many advantages to a winter visit:

The range of usual activities are still on offer - with children getting out on the water canoeing even in December.  The British weather can force a change - for example rock climbing as a substitute for crate stacking this year -  but it can rain any day of the year in Cambridgeshire and the alternative activities are equally as popular.  With the attitude ‘there is no such thing as the wrong weather’, it is just essential you bring the right clothes!

Resilience building is central to our curriculum.  Having to remember your winter clothes, deal with bigger waves and getting soaked (pupil voice!) and adapt to conditions is an essential life skill which our children are richer for experiencing.

The food is AMAZING!  What a treat to have a full cooked breakfast and a choice of hot food and snacks catered fresh on site.  On a cold winter’s day, children and teachers alike look forward to the visit to the canteen! As you would expect they cater for all dietary needs and the catering staff are so kind and responsive to everyone.  The children have also reminded us to mention they love the seconds on offer at meal times and the hot chocolate to warm up with!

At a time of a cost of living crisis, we do everything we can to keep visit costs as low as possible both for parents and for school as we fund Pupil Premium children to attend the visit which is a significant cost.  Therefore, the cost saving due to attending in winter enables children to attend a residential.  We highly value overnight visits which are part of our core offer to every child whilst in our school.

Whilst the first night’s excitement is often high and therefore sleep is at a premium, the shorter days in winter mean longer nights and more sleep after the first evening.  A definite bonus for tired teachers and for rested children who then are able to get the best from the visit.

In the run up to Christmas, the centre is decorated for a truly festive spirit!

Whilst it is a busy time of year in school, when isn’t busy in today’s school life?!  We find a residential at this time is a particularly effective use of time at the end of a long autumn term.

Finally, we’re well aware this might change as a result of being asked to write our reflection about the advantages of a winter residential, but a huge advantage to a winter visit is the fact that the site is less busy and we usually have the centre to ourselves in December! 

We conclude with extending the pupil and staff’s grateful thanks for a fabulous pre-Christmas experience.  So many memories, so many skills learnt and so much resilience and team work built. We are so lucky to have the facilities and staff of Grafham Water Centre in Cambridgeshire!