EDUCATION: What did you learn at school today?

Pose that question to a child at The Downs Malvern and you’re likely to receive some very interesting unusual answers from excited young learners… including how they learned to drive a railway engine or design a spare part for it.

As well as a host of sporting and leisure activities and hobbies that keep day-children and boarders alike busy when they’re not studying, the school is extremely proud of its unique learning resource: the world’s oldest privately-owned miniature steam railway.

The “Downs Light Railway” – with its own charitable trust to fund and guide its community teaching work – has just been entered for a national heritage award, and for 92 years it has been imparting a rich range of skills to pupils. The importance for their later careers cannot be underestimated, with the nation facing growing skills shortages in science, technology and engineering.

“Our railway really brings engineering to life,” says Headmaster Alastair Cook, “inspiring generations of pupils. It acts as an outdoor classroom, encouraging young people to develop practical skills that will not only act as a foundation should they go on to careers in technology or the sciences, but also prepare them for the world of work.

“We teach them about design and workshop practice and often find that the children are more interested in this than actually driving the trains! They also develop life skills such as leadership, teamwork, risk awareness, time management and responsibility which will last them a lifetime.”

That’s an awful lot that children can learn from just one activity!

Minerva Studio
Author: Minerva Studio