Information for parents of children coming to Derwent Hill

The video below shows a great example of what to expect at Derwent Hill.

What is Derwent Hill?

Derwent Hill is Sunderland City Council’s outdoor education and training centre.  It has provided high quality outdoor education for the children of Sunderland for over 50 years and is part of Sunderland City Council.

How will my child benefit from going to Derwent Hill?

Your child’s school or youth group may have chosen a Derwent Hill course focused on specific learning objectives, and should ensure that you and your child are aware of these.  Residential outdoor education is a very effective way of helping children and young people to develop in a range of areas including:

  • confidence and character
  • health and well-being
  • social and emotional awareness
  • environmental awareness
  • activity skills
  • personal qualities
  • skills for life
  • increased motivation and appetite for learning
  • broadened horizons

Where is Derwent Hill?

Derwent Hill is in the village of Portinscale about 1 mile from Keswick, Cumbria.  It is in the Lake District National Park, overlooking Derwentwater.

What activities does Derwent Hill offer?

The actual programme will be agreed with your child’s school or youth group.  See the range of activities we offer.

Do you have to be fit to take part in a Derwent Hill course?

All Derwent Hill courses are busy and action packed and a positive attitude and a willingness to try new things are more important than physical fitness. Many people find the activities challenging but the tutors at Derwent Hill will support and encourage everyone to get the most out of the course.

Will my child be safe?

We take the safety and well-being of the children on our courses very seriously.  Children will also be expected to take responsibility for their own safety appropriate to their age and abilities.  It is important that your child follows the instructions of school staff and our staff while at Derwent Hill, abides by any rules or agreements about behaviour, and lets staff know if there is anything that they are worried or unsure about.  See more information about safety at Derwent Hill.

What if my child has special needs?

Before and during the course we work with the staff from your child’s school or youth group to make sure the needs of all children are met.  You must ensure that you inform them about any special needs, disabilities, medical issues or dietary requirements. Normally you will be given a form requesting these details to complete.

Is my child supervised all the time?

Yes, but the level of supervision will depend on the age of your child and the circumstances.  Normally, this will be by Derwent Hill staff during activities and by school / youth group staff at other times.  There may be times when the supervision is not direct.  For example, when taking part in orienteering children may work alone or in pairs within a defined area and told what to do if they need help.

What is there to do in the evenings?

Organised activities normally continue until about 9 pm.  After that, or when there is some free time around mealtimes, children have access to various games and books, a pool table, table football, and a TV and DVD player.  They can also play outside in Derwent Hill’s grounds, with the permission and under the supervision of their school / youth group staff.

What does my child need to bring?

You can view a full kit list here Clothing and Kit list for schools.  We provide all specialist equipment but if your child has their own waterproofs, boots or rucksack they should feel free to bring them.  They will have to carry their bag up the stairs to their room, so make sure it is not too big or heavy!

Does my child need to bring any money?

They don’t need to bring any money, but a little pocket money would mean that they can buy an ice cream when out on a walk or a  souvenir of their visit at our shop – see our Souvenir Price List 2024 for what’s available.

What is the accommodation like?

Children sleep in bunk beds in dormitories of between 2, 4, 6 or 8.  Children are expected to make their own bed and keep their room tidy!  All dormitories have toilets and individual showers either en-suite or nearby.

What is the food like?

All our food is cooked on site and there is a choice of healthy meals every day.  We are able to cater for most dietary requirements with prior notice, so please make sure you inform your child’s school or youth group about these.

Can my child bring a mobile phone to ring home?

Your child’s school or youth group staff will decide if mobile phones are allowed.  If not, then your child can ask the staff to contact you if necessary.

How do I contact staff or my child in an emergency?

Your child’s school or youth group will let you know how you can contact them in an emergency.

What happens if my child gets homesick or ill, or has an accident whilst at Derwent Hill?

As soon as possible a member of your school or youth group’s staff will contact you to discuss what has happened.

Will I get a refund if my child cannot attend and has to go home early?

That depends on the agreement you have with your child’s school or youth group.  We recommend that they take out travel insurance to cover the possibility of a child not being able to attend because of sickness etc. – normally the insurance company will require a medical certificate.  If your child is sent home because of unacceptable behaviour, there will be no refund.

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