Tribe is a ground breaking project in Devon focussing on improving young people’s confidence, resilience, academic achievement and literacy. The results clearly show how literacy levels increase as self esteem is nurtured.

In times of economic instability, low literacy makes individuals and communities more vulnerable to inequality, increasing the risk of social exclusionNational Literacy Trust

The programme addresses the students’ learning challenges that are identified in the classroom. In addition to the class-based work, there are weekly nature-based, outdoor learning sessions, with a focus on the young people’s relationships, self-awareness and emotional literacy.

Land-based learning residentials 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.

Green Lane Films spent a year following the progress of 11 and 12 year olds from South Dartmoor College who found academic work challenging. On the residential weeks at Embercombe, South Dartmoor College teachers Chris Turley and James Woodward worked with the individual needs of each child.

Many of these young people have low self-esteem and needed encouragement not to give up on tasks. When they completed challenges that actually contributed towards running the Embercombe Community (like wood chopping) they felt a sense of achievement. This gradually built their confidence.

With increased self-esteem literacy levels improve. Their Reading Age progress levels increased by more than 20 months in one year. Emotional literacy also went up, taking them out of the below national average category to average.

What struck Director, Emma Goude the most was how the environment affected them. Getting the opportunity to sit alone in silence was one kid’s favourite thing about the whole experience and parents also commented on the affect that being at Embercombe had on their kids: it made them calmer and less agitated. Nature is a perhaps the greatest teacher.

The Tribe programme is now run by On The Hill, a land based learning centre in South Devon. The programme and this film is supported by the Northbrook Community Trust.

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