EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS

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EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS

Richard Wise

With many students getting ready to sit their final Exams, thoughts of full time employment will already be on many of their minds. However, academic excellence won’t necessarily guarantee anyone their dream career, especially in today’s highly competitive job market. More and more, companies are placing a higher value on candidates employability skills, with many admitting they are more desirable than top grades.

WHAT ARE EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS ?

Often referred to as “soft skills,” these are the traits that employers most want to see in job applicants. In a report commissioned by the Edge Foundation entitled “Employers Perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates” team work and problem solving were the top desirable traits listed. Others, such as leadership, flexibility, communication and good interpersonal skills are all essential in order to succeed in the 21st century work force. As an ever growing number of companies re-format their current employees into new team-focused dynamics rather than the traditional hierarchal structure, school and university graduates hoping to join their ranks really need to be able to show their strengths as a team player.

HOW CAN WISEUP HELP?

As our company name implies, team building is what we do! Our highly engaging activity days have a strong focus on improving students’ interactions with one another as they complete a range of physically and mentally challenging tasks. Only by working together as a cohesive unit will teams be able to complete our activities, communicating ideas and supporting one another throughout the event. Each one of our team building activity days can be tailored to focus on a particular skill and link to the work environment outside of school.

GET IN TOUCH

If you would like to hear how our team can build your students soft skills base at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

 

 

 

 

Targeting Archery in OUTDOOR EDUCATION

Richard Wise

Archery is a standard feature of almost every adventure education experience, with many students often claiming it was their favourite part of a day or residential. But why in particular has this age old sport become such a staple in the outdoor pursuits industry?

Archery through the ages

Having been documented as being used by the ancient Egyptians at least 5,000 years ago, archery has featured prominently in historical weaponry around the world. From China and Japan, across the Middle East to Turkey and Greece, the bow and arrow had a formidable reputation. The English longbow, which became a force in the Middle Ages, was particularly ruthless. It was said that during the Battle of Crecy in 1346, 6,000 English archers launched 42,000 arrows per minute.

A weapon of sport

The invention of firearms saw archery become obsolete from a military perspective, however around the 18th century it enjoyed a fashionable revival as an aristocratic past time. In 1844, the Grand National Archery Society held a meeting to turn archery into a modern sport. The following decade saw many of the rules introduced that we still use today. Included in the Olympics sporadically from 1900-1972, it is now a permanent fixture in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

What are the benefits?

Archery has a string of physical health benefits such as improving upper body strength, balance and co-ordination. It also improves metal focus and teaches key life skills such as personal safety, resilience and patience as participants practice and refine their aim. Games introduce an important element of fun, with team challenged bringing together individual shooters into a cohesive unit. What’s also fantastic is that archery is a sport that is easily accessible to all, including those with mental and physical disabilities. There are a whole host of tactile devices that have been designed to ensure everyone can take part.

GET IN TOUCH

If you would like to hear how our team can provide affordable Archery days at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

 

5 ways Adults can benefit from Team Building Activity Days

Richard Wise

Whether the task involves cooking, sports or puzzle-solving, the idea behind team building activity days is to increase the sense of togetherness of those involved. The individual and the team benefits from these activities in the following ways:

  1. Improves communication

In medium to large size companies it is likely that most communication is done by email, telephone or other non-face-to-face means. There may even be individuals in the office that some have never spoken to, even after many years of service. Team building exercises break down the walls of work departments so that everyone mixes together; marketing, accounting, human resources, sales all become one. People who are not used to working together get to participate and work as a team, interacting with each other, establishing a rapport and building strong relationships.

  1. Encourages creativity

Getting away from a desk and daily responsibilities can boost creativity, as your mind is no longer occupied on those tasks that are yet to be completed. Being in a new environment lends itself to thinking in new ways. A job may restrict someone from going beyond its roles and responsibilities; for example working in accounting tends to keep creativity to a minimum.

Team building activity days actively encourage creativity. Being given tasks that are different to those at work forces the brain to think diversely, and look at things from an alternative angle. These new ways of learning can then be transferred to the work environment leading to greater productivity.

  1. Improves motivation and morale

Repetitive tasks can hamper anyones motivation to get through them, and constantly doing the same thing day in day out can quickly make the work environment stale. Stepping away from this and coming together as a team to complete an activity can give you and others a much needed boost in morale. Team building activities can often identify barriers to positive morale, and when employees succeed in these activities, they become more confident, which boosts their motivation.

  1. Time to develop skills

When under a heavy workload there is little time to develop skills or learn new ones. Team building activities offer the opportunity to showcase abilities that may not come to the fore in a typical role at work, and allows people to focus on what they are best at. These activities are also a great way to learn new skills and discover things people didn’t know about their colleagues; you may find out that Christine from human resources is a brilliant designer, or Phillip from IT is a natural leader. These newly found skills can change company dynamics and improve productivity.

  1. Improves relationships

In a busy office environment there is often little time to build relationships with colleagues. The fun nature of team building activities allows employees to get know each other in a casual environment, whether inside or outside of the office. People may find that they have a common interest with someone from another team; this consequently makes them more likeable and trustworthy, and leads to easier future communications. Developing better relationships with colleagues also means that employees are more likely to look forward to coming into the office.

These are just a few of the many benefits of team building activity days. The key to these days is to make the most of them and get involved from start to finish.

 

5 free activities to keep young people active in winter

Richard Wise

It is often thought that team building activities are best saved for the summer, however there are plenty of exciting games and challenges that are great for keeping young people active all winter long. With the cold weather still hanging around, we at WiseUp have outlined a few of our favourite indoor games to help encourage everyone to enjoy the next few weeks using little or no equipment.

Giants, Wizards & Dwarfs

This game offers an active twist of the classic Rock, Paper, Scissors and is ideally suited to being played in a hall or larger indoor space. First, the group is split into two teams with a minimum of 5 per team and then each team decides on the character (Giant, Wizard or Dwarf) and corresponding action for their team for that round. When the teams have decided their character, they meet in the middle to perform their chosen action at the command of the game master. (Giants stomp on Wizards, Wizards cast spells on Dwarfs and Dwarfs tickle Giants). The losing team then has to run back to their safe zone without being tagged by the other team!

Categories

This simple game is a great ice-breaker for young people to get to know each other, It doesn’t require much space and encourages good communication.

The concept is simple. The game master calls out categories that the group then has to order themselves in. These categories could be anything from height, to length of names. For older groups, add a time limit to increase the difficulty!

Luck of the Dice

All that is needed for this game of chance is a large space and a dice of some variety – a large foam one works best for dramatic effect! Different areas of the space are assigned a number from the dice, and the dice is then thrown up in the air. Players have only the time that the dice is airborne to decide on a number and run to that area. If they do not make it before the dice lands, or they have chosen the space that matches the number showing face up on the dice, then they are out. The process is repeated, whittling away players each time The winner is the last person standing!

Animals by Number

An absolute classic! Players all mingle around the play area (feel free to get them dancing or use music to hype them up!) then the leader calls out an animal and a number – the number refers to how many players need to be involved to make the shape of the animal called out using only their bodies. The leader can choose to judge the shapes created and award prizes for the best ones.

Crab Football

A fun twist on the popular sport, crab football is a hilarious team activity that is bound to leave the entire group in stitches (the good kind!). Separate the group into two teams and instruct them to only move sideways, face up and on their hands and feet. Normal football rules also apply. This will require effective teamwork and will constitute a fairly thorough workout, however more often than not this game results in a bit of chaos and a lot of laughter!

Indoor activities all winter long

WiseUp offer fantastic team building activities including First Aid, Time Attack and The Hub Challenge to name just a few that can be carried out indoors with a range of different group sizes and ages. For more information on our fun activity days, visit our website.

 

How Important are Group Dynamics?

Richard Wise

When planning a WiseUp Team Building event, one of the most common questions we are asked by teachers is “How should we group the students?” As the combination of learners can greatly affect the outcome of the day, it’s a great question to be asked and one we are always happy to advise on.

What is the focus of the Event?

The first consideration to think of is the aim of the day. For example, if communication in a particular focal point, then it would be worth thinking about who the quieter students are and who best to place them with to encourage them to speak out and share ideas. If resilience is what the students need to focus on most, then combining students who have a tendency to give up with those more driven (sometimes, but not always this means mixing low attainers with those who do better academically) can have a positive effect, especially as traditionally these students would be in separate classes.

What about SEN students?

The placement of SEN students is also something which needs to be thought about carefully. The abilities of the students, and any additional support available to them, such as Teaching Assistants, adaptive equipment etc, will all influence the performance of their team. Our instructors work closely with school staff to ensure that all SEN students are fully involved to the best of their ability.

When more than one year group is participating, should the students be grouped with their classmates?

A team structure that is becoming increasingly popular (especially in schools which use the House system) is that of vertical grouping. Similar to vertical tutoring, the concept is based on combining students from across all year groups in one team. This has many benefits, such as encouraging older learners to take more of a leadership role while supporting younger ones, and is a great way for students to positively and constructively engage with each other.

Is it best for school staff or WiseUp to sort the groups?

With group dynamics playing a crucial role in the success of any team building event, teachers are perfectly placed to structure students so that they are poised and ready to begin the day with others who bring out the best in them. Having students working with people who are not part of their everyday friendship groups can often bring out skills and talents which are usually not seen.

 

The Financial Cost Of Outdoor Education

Richard Wise

School residentials are always a memorable part of every student’s education. For some, it will be the first time they have been away from home for more than one night at a time, whilst for others it’s about trying exciting new activities. For all students who attend, the opportunities to learn and build on key skills like communication and social interaction, problem solving and resilience are invaluable to their personal development.

Despite this, a recent study examining The state of school residentials in England: 2017 found that approximately only one in five children experience a residential every year. With increasing evidence to support the numerous benefits of incorporating outdoor learning within the national curriculum, this is a concerning statistic. Even more worryingly, the study revealed that only a third of teachers surveyed were confident that all of their students could afford to participate. Pupils living in more disadvantaged areas were found to be significantly less likely to be able to take part in traditional residentials, with affordability being repeatedly referenced.

What do teachers think?

At WiseUp, we strongly believe that young people’s opportunities to access outdoor learning should not be limited by how much money their families have. This is a view shared by many within the education sector, with delegates at the annual NAHT school leaders union conference voting “in favour of campaigning for protected funding to enable all children to have access to high quality outdoor education” according to Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary.

Whilst that is encouraging to hear, Mr Whiteman also acknowledged that “The education funding crisis is only going to reduce opportunities to participate in residential activities…” with many schools more cash strapped than ever due to budget cuts.  

Year 4 young people fun activities

How do we make outdoor activities more affordable?

WiseUp Team Building offers the ideal solution to enable students in any area to access affordable, high quality outdoor education. As a nationwide outreach company, our teams travel all over the UK to deliver enjoyable and rewarding activity days on school sites, meaning the logistics and cost of removing students from school is eliminated. With a transparent pricing structure and no limit on participant numbers, we also offer half and split day options for all of our activities.

Get in touch

If you would like to hear how our team can provide affordable team building days at your school site, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.

5 Challenging Brain Teasers

Richard Wise

At WiseUp we are passionate about challenging mind and body, and setting people of all ages exciting problems to solve.

Here we bring 5 of our favourite brain teasers. See if you can work out the solutions without cheating!

House under snow, black & white filter

1. The Dark Cabin

You are alone in a cabin, it is completely dark, and you only have one match. In the cabin there is a fireplace, a candle and an old newspaper. Which do you light first?

Bus stop art drawing

2. Bus Stop

You are driving a bus to London. At the first stop two ladies get on. At the second stop, a man and two children get on, and one of the ladies gets off. At the third stop two more men get on the bus and another of the ladies gets off. The bus is red and it is raining outside. But what is the driver’s name?

True or false direction arrows

3. The Liar and the Truth Teller

You are walking along a long road, and you come across a section where the road splits into two. Two men stand in front of each of the paths. One always lies and the other always tells the truth. Along one road will lead to treasures beyond your wildest dreams, whilst the other will lead to nothing, but you are only allowed to ask each man one question to work out which is which.

What question do you ask?

Island and boat paper art

4. Fox, Chicken and a Sack of Grain

You have a fox, a chicken and a sack of grain that you need to get to the other side of a raging river. Unfortunately, your boat is only big enough for one of the three items at a time and if you leave the fox with the chicken or the chicken with the grain, they will be eaten.

How do you get everything to the other side of the river?

Light bulbs

5. Three Lights, Three Switches

You are in a room which has nothing in it but three switches on the wall, and a door. The door leads to another room which contains three light bulbs. You want to work out which light bulb corresponds to each switch but once you open the door, you can no longer touch the switches.

How do you work out which switch is connected to each lightbulb?

Solutions

1. The match of course!

2. YOU are driving the bus.

3. In order to find out the correct path, ask both men ‘if I ask the other man, what road will they tell me is the correct road?” The liar will tell you that the honest man would choose the bad path and the honest man would correctly tell you that the liar would also choose the bad path. Now all you need to do is go down the other path for everything your heart could desire!

4. Take the chicken over on the boat first. Then the fox but bring back the chicken. Then leave the chicken but take the grain and finally do one last trip to pick up the chicken again.

5. This is a tricky one! Turn on the first two light switches and leave them for a few minutes. Then turn off the middle switch. Go through the door and look at the lights. The light that is on will belong to the first switch and one of the lightbulbs will be off but warm meaning it belongs to the second switch. The light that is cold and off will belong to the third switch.

How To Encourage Quieter Young People To Participate In Group Activities

Richard Wise

When it comes to group activities, it can often be a challenge to ensure that everyone feels comfortable to contribute and make their voice heard.

Many educators struggle to ensure that more quiet students make friends and participate in activities, both in and outside of the classroom. At WiseUp, we use a few handy tips to help encourage these young people to participate.

1. Be careful with labels

There is nothing wrong with being quiet, so rather than associating it with negative connotations, we ensure that students feel happy being themselves whilst positively reinforcing times when they go outside their comfort zone to speak up. By focusing on quietness as a strength, and getting the rest of the team to realise that quiet students often have the best ideas, every member of the group is appreciated for their input.

2. Give them responsibility

One great way of increasing a student’s participation is by giving them a responsibility. In the classroom, this can be anything from watering a class plant to being in charge of a work group. During activities outside the classroom, we often look to play to each student’s strengths in the challenges we set. If a child is great at problem solving, we will encourage them to lead the group and display their skills. Similarly, if they excel at physical activities such as running, that will greatly benefit the team with certain activities.

Quieter young people participating in group activities

3. Remove the pressure of participating

Getting up in front of a large group can be intimidating. Rather than increasing the pressure of participation, students work in smaller groups on our activities to help ensure that everyone’s input is needed. By designing many of our challenges to be multi-faceted, students who are feeling less confident are still able to contribute to at least one element of the activity.

In summary

At WiseUp, we host a variety of team building activities for groups of all sizes. We often see quieter students who are reluctant to join in initially, but by playing to their strengths and making them feel appreciated when expressing themselves, many end up surprising their teachers and themselves with how involved they get. Rather than forcing students to participate, we employ a variety of techniques which allow learners to become involved at a pace that they are comfortable with.

To find out more, see our range of activities here.

How much exercise do young people need?

Richard Wise

We hear a lot about the short-term physical implications of a lack of exercise. One in three children are now obese when they leave primary school (a statistic that we’d like to change!). But, looking beyond, what impacts does exercise have on the short-term mental and long-term physical and mental health of our young people? And how much exercise do they need?

What does exercise do for them?

Young people will often find that their sporting and activity time is cut in favour of more ‘educational’ purposes. Yet greater rates of activity for children have been associated with higher reading and math scores and an overall boost in academic achievement. It has also been associated with improved behaviours in the classroom and greater emotional intelligence, promoting a long-term lift in both mood and behaviour. An easy visual assessment; think of a young person’s mood after they have spent an hour in a dark room staring at an iPad vs after an hour of running around in the park with friends. You can often see the physical and emotional difference, can’t you?

So, how much exercise do kids really need?

The NHS recommend that young people between 5 and 18 should be having at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day; this can be a mix of moderate and vigorous activity. Moderate activity can be as simple as walking the dog, with vigorous activity requiring them to get a little more out of breath! We find that some young people are already hitting these targets, but many need a little helping hand.

children exercising

How can we help young people to get involved?

Making activity fun for kids, promoting outdoor education and encouraging team building activities are great ways to foster interests in kids that may otherwise be disengaged with the traditional school sports-hall fare. Encouraging personal development and treating each child as an individual allows them to develop character and confidence. For physical development purposes activity should be mixed. Young people need to develop their muscle and bone strength so getting them involved in alternative sports means that not only are they thinking outside the box, but they are also working on different muscle groups. Think assault courses to develop agility, archery to work on hand-eye coordination and orienteering to help them explore and learn the world (sans Google Maps!).

kids sports day

Active kids are also more likely to grow up to be active adults.

Giving children the opportunity to take part in fun team building and sporting activity allows them to develop into happy, healthy and emotionally developed adults. Whether you are a teacher or parent, the health benefits of getting young children active are numerously beneficial.

We at WiseUp are dedicated to getting children involved in team building activities to help them bond, develop their skill level and ultimately stay fit.

Get in touch today to find out more.

What Does Resilience Mean In Education?

Richard Wise

Resilience is a word often used in education but what does it actually mean and how can outdoor learning have an impact?

Students at every age are under enormous amounts of stress, from school work and exam learning to social situations and potentially difficult home lives. These high levels of stress, particularly in young people, can lead to them becoming emotional, withdrawn, resentful and angry. Whilst many people brush these traits off as “teenage hormones,” there is something we can do to help.

Scientifically speaking, when people are stressed, this can cause the prefrontal cortex of the brain to temporarily shut down. As this is the part of the brain that is involved with problem solving, attention focus, impulse control and regulating emotion, it is vital that we give young people the tools to be able to adapt well to changes and difficulties to reduce this stress level. In short, building them up on the inside to be strong enough to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.

Studies have shown that resilient children are significantly less likely to develop emotional problems as they feel they are worthwhile and can make a difference, both independently and as part of a group. They develop good relationships with their peers through understanding others feelings, flexible approaches to problems and having the ability to laugh at themselves whilst maintaining a sense of purpose that they can get things done.

How can outdoor learning help?

As outdoor practitioners, we realise that transition points in children’s lives can be fantastic opportunities to build on this key skill in a variety of settings. Whether in primary school when students are learning extensive social skills alongside the national curriculum, to high school and beyond, many of the key factors in promoting resilience in young people remain the same.

By giving learners opportunities to contribute to a supportive group of peers gives them positive reinforcement of their choices and helps them develop optimistic thinking to find solutions to problems. Feeling the responsibility of their actions towards the rest of their team can increase student’s confidence, which in turn helps them deal with challenges.

Not only is managed exposure to risk necessary if children are to learn coping mechanisms, but it has been proven that exercise strengthens and reorganises the brain to make it more resilient to stress.

Get in Touch

If you would like to hear how our team can provide enjoyable team building days which help students work on their resilience, please use our easy enquiry form or give us a call.