the tribe programme

The Tribe programme is a partnership between On The Hill and a school that aims to raise young people’s confidence, resilience and academic attainment. This is achieved through a combination of:

  • A programme within school that addresses the students’ identified learning challenges. In addition to the class-based work, this programme includes weekly nature-based, outdoor learning sessions, with a focus on the young people’s relationships, self-awareness and emotional literacy.

  • Land-based learning residentials, which provide the young people with the opportunity to experience themselves in a new context, away from their normal concerns and distractions. They take on self-leadership and leadership responsibilities and strengthen their relationships to themselves, their peers and their environment.

Tribe taking place at Embercombe in 2016.

“Tribe time and activities such as cooking and harvesting really connect you to your class and strengthen bonds...”

(Class 8 pupil).

The Tribe Programme operates through four central principles as outlined below:

Building a community

Students who struggle at school often also struggle with relationships with their peers, their sense of failure affecting their self-esteem and their relationships with others and with authority. Outdoor learning, both in school and on residentials, enables the students to get to know themselves and each other in a new light and to find work and activities in which they shine. Collective problem-solving of whole-group tasks builds a spirit of support and collaboration that can be brought to the challenges they face in the classroom.

Developing citizenship

Tribe has an evidence-based track record of raising the reading ages and resilience of students aged 11-14. Beyond that, Tribe offers young people an experience of citizenship, of the reward of fully contributing to your community and of the joy of overcoming barriers that can seem insurmountable in order to achieve your goals.

Leaving a legacy

A central theme of the outdoor learning element of Tribe is the young people’s contribution to improving and maintaining their school environment, through creating facilities for the whole school. For example, students have been involved in creating food growing areas and building outdoor seating. Practical skills and cooperative approaches to work learnt on residentials, are applied back in school where the students take pride and a leadership role in the improvement of the school’s outdoor environment and facilities. They become aware of the work that others have done before them and take great pride in leaving a legacy for those still to come.

Time for reflection

Reflection is a central strand of Tribe. Through time in nature, alone and in groups; through games and questions and the talk that happens as you work together, young people are supported to become more aware of their strengths and of the aspects of themselves they want to work on; and of how they are in a group and in a working team. Awareness of yourself is a precursor to bringing about change. Recently, a group of students learnt to listen to the difference between the calm call of a blackbird and its alarm call when it felt threatened. This was the vehicle through which some students began to realise the effect of their own agitation on others when they find learning difficult. It was the beginning of their journey to make a change in themselves. Daily opportunities for reflection are a part of the practice of Tribe and become a tool that the students can use for themselves in their lives beyond school.

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