A guide to our activities
To ensure the quality of the residential experience, the centre staff will work with visiting schools to design a programme which meets the needs of the children and the curriculum. The centre offers a number of activities, a short description of each is included to help with the planning of your trip.
Archery is taught by Gorsefield staff and is suitable for yr4+. The maximum group size is 12 and a session takes 1hr15m. Pupils learn the basics of archery including safety, equipment and technique. It is a great sport to try as improvement is generally rapid and it is fun for all ages.
The classroom and grounds provide space for a variety of artwork activities. Artwork activities are generally lead by visiting staff and art materials should be brought with you. Sketching, painting, plaster of paris, collages, Andy Goldsworthy environmental art and card making have all proved popular in the past.
Campfire cooking is taught by Gorsefield staff and is suitable for yr4+. The maximum group size is 12 and a session takes 1hr15m. Pupils collect wood, build an open fire and make bread. Fire safety and science are incorporated into the teaching and pupils love consuming the end product- warm, fresh bread dipped in jam!
The centre owns a set of tents which can be used during the summer months if groups fancy a night under canvas. Sleeping mats are provided and children bring duvets and pillows from the bedrooms to keep them warm.
The countryside around the centre provides the opportunity for a lovely walk. Incorporating meadows, fields and forests, it provides a real feel of the Essex countryside.
Cycling is taught by Gorsefield staff and is suitable for yr4+. The maximum group size is 12 and a session takes 1hr15m. Pupils learn safe cycling techniques and practice their skills on our purpose built cycle track before trying our new mountain biking obstacles. The session is also suitable for non riders who can learn and practice on our large grassy area.
Pupils use our new ‘Flip Videomakers’ and computers to create a short movie. The cameras are very simple to use and allow groups to make nature documentaries or souvenir movies to show parents on the return to school.
Gardening is a great activity for all ages and is lead by the Gorsefield staff. Pupils assist with a variety of gardening tasks including planting, harvesting, leaf collecting, ground preparation etc. It can be done throughout the year in our two polytunnels. The products of this activity are regularly found on the lunch table!
Pupils explore the site in a hunt for mini beasts. The activity links well with classroom work on habitats and life cycles. Keys, books, identification sheets and equipment for catching the insects is provided
Orienteering is led by the Gorsefield staff and can be adapted for children of all ages. Pupils learn basic map reading and then undertake an orienteering course based in the grounds of the centre.
Pupils use the centre’s pond dipping equipment to hunt for creatures in our on-site pond. Identification sheets and keys are provided for pupils to learn about the creatures they find. This activity links in well with the study of habitats, life cycles and food chains.
Pupils use bamboo sticks, elastic bands and material to design and construct a shelter. This is a great activity for teamwork and thinking about the design and shape of different structures
The centre has space for a variety of sporting activities. We have a basketball court, a football pitch and plenty of room for games such as rounders, cricket and badminton. The centre owns limited sports equipment so groups are encouraged to bring their own equipment.
Pupils are split into small teams and move around a variety of challenges based within the grounds. The challenges are designed to encourage teamwork and groups must work together in order to solve them. Activities include a blindfold obstacle course, a ‘raging river’ and an enormous spider web!
Stansted Mountfitchet provides a great location for a contrasting locality study. Resident questionnaires, traffic surveys, land use surveys and sketching can be used to build up a picture of how like in Stansted differs to that in Tower Hamlets. This activity can also tie in with a walk to the windmill in the village. It works best if a similar study is also done in their home environment.
We have two different trails that lead children around the historic village of Stansted Mountfitchet. Pupils can undertake a scavenger hunt, answering questions about various buildings etc, or can do our ‘photo trail’ where teams compete to locate where different photos were taken.
Willow weaving is suitable for year 4+ and is led by the Gorsefield staff. Pupils learn basic traditional willow weaving technique and create a small piece of weaving to take home. This is a great activity for the colder months and enables children to learn a traditional craft.
Many groups incorporate an external visit into their stay at Gorsefield. Below are the details for some of the most common external visits.
Mountfitchet Castle is a 15 minute walk from the centre and is a great place for an afternoon visit. It is a reconstruction of a motte and bailey castle and has fun, child friendly displays of what life would have been like in 1066. There are lots of rescue animals roaming free around the site and children can stroke and feed chickens, goats, sheep and deer.
Stansted Mountfitchet Windmill
The windmill was built in 1787 and is a great example of a tower mill. It’s quite a challenge climbing up the internal ladders but offers and interesting experience for children. This needs to be booked in advance so get in touch with us if this is of interest. Alternatively the outside of the windmill is lovely to sketch and this is also a popular activity.
Bishop Stortford Bowling Alley
Bishop Stortford is a 5 minute train ride from Stansted Mountfitchet and has a number of attractions including a bowling alley, cinema and swimming pool.
A trip to Duxford does involve hiring a coach, however it ties in very well with work on the war and is free for children. They offer workshops and demonstrations for schools and we’ve had good feedback from schools who have visited.
Cambridge is a 30 minute train ride from Stansted and is a wonderful historic city to visit. The centre has links with one of the university colleges who can provide tours, visits and workshops to children from Tower Hamlets. There is also a number of good museums, a swimming pool with flumes and some wonderful architecture to admire.
Harlow Activity Centre
Harlow Outdoors is an easily accessible activity centre on the banks of the River Stort. They can offer sessions in high ropes, climbing, abseiling, kayaking and canoeing. It is a short train ride from the centre, however it does get booked very early and does work out quite expensive with a large group of children.
Audley End House and Gardens
Audley End is a historic country house built in 1880 and set in beautiful grounds. It is an English Heritage property and they offer tours to groups. It is very interesting to look around and has beautiful grounds for picnic and exploring.