Outdoor Education Worker

Not all education takes place inside the school gates.  Community services help young people to develop many skills from outdoor activities such as abseiling.  It is not only physical attributes that are acquired; working in groups helps pupils build confidence and learn how to cope with relationships as well.  The post exists in most types of authority.

Work Environment
By definition, work is undertaken outside the school buildings.  Outdoor education workers are often based at a special centre or park.  The hours are 37 per week which includes evening, weekend, residential and holiday work. The job is often offered as part-time or casual ad hoc work.  It is sometimes physically demanding, noisy and boisterous.

Daily Activities
The purpose of the job is to provide adventure activities such as climbing to young people, schools and other agencies such as youth and community clubs.  The activities at any one centre could include:

  • climbing (outdoor wall);
  • mobile wall climbing;
  • team building;
  • high and low ropes courses;
  • adventure problem solving;
  • gorge walking (canyoneering);
  • improvised rafting;
  • caving;
  • National Navigation awards;
  • school transition;
  • GCSE outdoor education;
  • key skills;
  • mountain biking;
  • archery;
  • orienteering;
  • canoeing / kayaking in an indoor swimming pool, or outside in a river;
  • sports leadership projects (for young unemployed).

Specific duties encompass:

  • working directly with young people, adults and groups to help them with their personal and social development and giving them the support they need to develop self esteem;
  • taking sessions with the "disengaged" - those with special needs such as behavioural problems, young offenders, some who may have physical and/or mental disabilities and those from ethnic minorities;
  • working with the general public offering opportunities to gain new skills and accreditation;
  • making sure that any educational adventure is safe and purposeful as well as exciting and in accordance with the adventure activity licence authority and centre specific operational procedures;
  • contributing new ideas to develop outdoor education opportunities;
  • working with the team to generate income and external funding to meet the costs of running a centre;
  • being responsible for the maintenance and safety of equipment and facilities;
  • assisting with the marketing of facilities to a broader public;
  • taking part in environmental programmes.

Skills & Interests
You would need to be:

  • flexible and able to adapt readily to change;
  • able to undertake training in accordance with a personal development plan;
  • able to plan and deliver work effectively;
  • a skilled communicator;
  • healthy and have stamina;
  • aware of how groups work together, including team building and development;
  • understanding of young people's attitudes and the issues that affect them;
  • able to create a caring, but professional approach to people;
  • able to vary the styles of leadership to suit the client and the setting;
  • adept at drawing out the strengths of young people in formal and informal situations;
  • a good organiser and administrator.

Entry Requirements
You need to have a minimum of two national governing body coaching awards such as  the British Mountaineering 'Single Pitch Award' (SPA), British Canoe Union Coaching Certificate (level 1 or above) and BCU Canoe Wales.  It is essential that you have worked with young people and adults in informal and formal settings and with groups and individuals.  Also experience of work on programmes of outdoor education activities and in multi-disciplinary teams is important.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
There are opportunities for advancement in many different areas of outdoor education in formal and informal establishments.  You can move up to team leader, for example.  And there are a variety of jobs in community services.

Further Information & Services
British Mountaineering Council www.thebmc.co.uk
Canoe Wales www.canoewales.com
Community Service Volunteers www.csv.org.uk
National Council for Voluntary Youth Services - information on paid and voluntary opportunities in youth work
National Youth Agency www.nya.org.uk
Skills Active www.skillsactive.com

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales (www.careerswales.com/) or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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