This Trinity Term Field Day started a little earlier this year with 18 pupils coming together on a Sunday evening to prepare for the Big Sleep. The group, along with two hardy members of staff, slept out overnight in the Quad to raise awareness for the homeless in Gloucestershire and across the UK. To replicate the type of shelters that homeless people might sleep in night after night, the local YMCA provided the pupils with cardboard boxes. The race was on to find the warmest spot, most sheltered from the wind and any rain that might fall; the difference for our pupils was that they had a warm Sixth Form Common Room to sit in beforehand, a cooked breakfast waiting for them in the morning after the event and the experience only lasted for one night. The group woke up after an uncomfortable but insightful night’s sleep. The experience taught them not only to appreciate how very lucky they are but also led them to consider what they might do to help alleviate homeless issues in their local community.
As Monday morning came around, the rest of the pupils were ready and raring to go for a day jam packed with activities. The Year 10 Combined Cadet Force spent the day conducting some very worthwhile extended training.The Royal Navy Section travelled to the Outdoor Education Centre at South Cerney, where they sailed, windsurfed and generally enjoyed a day of Afloat Training. The Army and RAF sections took part in a swimming test and a range of valuable Skill at Arms lessons in preparation for their upcoming summer camp. Head of CCF, Major Dom Evans said, “like the ‘Big Sleepers’, the CCF group braved a cold start to the day. A great opportunity for all to improve their skills and maybe even learn a few new ones.”
Back on home turf, 140 members of the Sixth Form were set to enter the Old Gym for an afternoon they would never forget. The pupils entered in ‘family groups’ to find that the gym had been transformed, by the Empathy Action charity, into a Bangladeshi slum. The new found ‘families’ had to adapt quickly to the expectations of the slum landlord; forced to make paper bags which could then be traded for the money to pay for food, rent, sanitation and health care. The pressure was high, treatment was harsh and conventional morality was quickly exchanged for survival strategies. Two hours or ‘three weeks’ later, the simulation came to an end and Empathy Action challenged the room to reflect on the experience, explaining that millions live like this in countries around the world today. Empathy Action asked the question: ‘So what?’, leaving everyone to consider how they might respond to the experience, both in our own community and beyond.