Two old school friends have started running ‘educamps’ in Wiltshire and Hampshire to help children prepare for the 11-plus and Common Entrance exams.
Oppidan Education, founded last year by Henry Faber and Walter Kerr, aims to make learning fun, with outdoor camps for youngsters aged nine to 14.
“From our experience as tutors, we found doing 100 hours of academic help to be fundamentally detrimental, and what is really useful for children is to learn things that engage them and help them invest in the process of learning.
“The children camp in Indian bell
tents, cook barbecue food, join in discussions, business pitch, learn to change tyres, build rockets – they learn to be independent and challenge themselves,” Henry said.
Henry and Walter met aged nine when competing at sport at rival prep schools. They were friends at Eton College before Henry went to Oxford and Walter to Durham.
Working separately for large London tuition agencies, as well as companies in Spain and China, the friends felt there was space for a fresh and personal approach to education: currently Oppidan employs 50 mentors.
Henry said: “In July, we are trialling a partnership with a coding company called Cypher Coding so there will be a coding element with children learning to use technology efficiently. Having a technological element is an exciting part of it.”
Their first camp in Wiltshire was on land belonging to Henry’s parents in the village of Baydon, 10 minutes from Marlborough. This year 10 camps are running in Wiltshire and Hampshire.
“A lot of camps are large and corporate and feel a bit like school. We like to feel we are running a home experience – it’s great fun and we are big on cooking.
“The idea is that education camps, most of the time, are in conflict with schools – they are trying to give more of what a school gives in more maths and more science. It’s added pressure in a competitive system.
“We have a super curriculum which is not just off curriculum but above it.
Team work, communication and resilience, investing time in something and seeing it through. A lot of it looks like fun but we thread education through it,” Henry added.