‘Expose pupils to genuine risk,’ says headteacher who sent pupils up an uncharted Greenland mountain

The Telegraph is reporting that a headteacher has sent teenagers up an uncharted Greenland mountain, flying them there in a World War II submarine hunting sea plane, despite risk of bears and parents fearing for their children’s lives, in an effort to teach them about risk.

Gavin Horgan, headmaster at independent school Worksop College in Nottinghamshire, says children’s lives have been “sanitised” and they should be exposed to genuine risk.

Mr Horgan’s comments emerged as parents of the class of teenagers said they were “very apprehensive” at first of letting their teenagers embark on the expedition for which they needed preparation for a year.

The pupils, all aged 16 to 18, spent twelve months preparing for the expedition and the harsh conditions they will encounter in the Arctic Circle.

The training involved how to handle a gun, rock climbing, CPR and a full-scale emergency evacuation…

The ten teenagers are also travelling with a doctor who has received training in case one of them breaks a bone…

More at: ‘Expose pupils to genuine risk,’ says headteacher who sent pupils up an uncharted Greenland mountain


Sounds like an amazing trip and no doubt it comes with an amazing price tag, but what do you think of the bigger point Gavin Horgan is making here?

Should schools be exposing pupils to risk or is such an idea just not appropriate for most (especially those in the state sector)?

Please give us your reactions and feedback.


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  1. There is an easier and much, much cheaper way of ensuring children become ‘risk adept’ at a young age – improve the quality of the outside play environment. 
    Get rid of negative staff attitudes to safety and learn Risk-Benefit Assessment, promote a play-positive culture across the school, introduce challenging and flexible features (not boring trim-trails and their ilk), and ensure every child has access to a multitude of social spaces, journeys and affordances. 
    The result?
    Behaviour improved (by up to 90%), increased attendance, better grades, sedentary behaviour during breaktimes down from 50% to under 7%, enhanced social and emotional development, better ability to cope with stress, and a better awareness of the real dangers in this world.

  2. writeandraise

    This appears to be a very measured risk and one that must have been well assessed. It has been barely 30 years when schools would be left open for pupils to attend in temperatures below minus five degrees Celsius. Now strong wind is enough to close schools for the day in the name of caution and fear. Children should be exposed to greater but measured risk. How else will they gain survival skills in a challenging and ever more competitive world of diminishing resources. There’s more to life than pieces of paper with end of school certified grades. This trip will hopefully instil courage in the children and give them greater emotional dexterity. Now isn’t that a lesson worth its weight in gold? The headmaster should be hailed a hero and a visionary when they all return safely.

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