May 3, 2021

Most of the boys who undertake Hale’s Exmouth adventure programme name it as one of the highlights of their school days. Now independent research shows that the revised and extended Exmouth Outdoor Education programme has a significant positive impact on our boys’ wellbeing.

For his PhD in Outdoor Recreation, researcher Michael Down compared Hale’s 14-day Exmouth Frontier programme to a five-day Outdoor Education programme at another boys’ school in Perth. He analysed the impact on 13 to 14-year-old students’ wellbeing (psychological functioning and life satisfaction) and self-efficacy (a personal judgement of how well a person can cope with different situations). Findings from previous studies suggest that this age presents a challenging period as young teenagers adjust to the physical, emotional and psychological changes of adolescence.

Students from the two schools completed surveys before and after their Outdoor Education experiences. The results showed that while students from both schools increased their self-efficacy and wellbeing, the Hale School students demonstrated significantly higher wellbeing after the longer Frontier programme.

“The longer Hale programme meant that students had more time to build strong social connections, solve problems and appreciate the Exmouth area’s natural environment,” Michael said.  “The quality of the programme development and excellent staff facilitation would also have affected results. My findings suggest that Outdoor Education programmes can improve wellbeing with this age group, and Hale School is well-placed to be a leader in future research in this area.”

Year 9s undertake the 14-day Exmouth Outdoor Education expedition, which involves outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking, snorkelling; outdoor camping, and independent meal preparation in the beautiful Exmouth region and Ningaloo Reef. The Frontier Group of volunteer students stay for a longer period and also engage in field research and stay at a cattle station, where they look at agribusiness opportunities. The Exmouth experience is a highlight of the Year 9 programme, which focuses on character building. While designed to be challenging, the students develop great camaraderie and feel a deep sense of personal satisfaction in completing the programme.

The Hale Outdoor Education Department was recently recognised as the winner of the Outstanding Contribution to Outdoor Learning Award category in the Western Australian Outdoor Recreation Sector Awards. This award recognises Hale’s remodelling of the Year 7 and 8 programmes to Nannup, the Exmouth Frontier Group trials and overall contributions to student learning in the outdoors over the last two years. The Exmouth Frontier programme was a finalist for the Innovative Outdoor Program Award and Matt Yates, one of our contract instructors, was the winner of WA’s Emerging Outdoor Education Leadership Award.

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