By Claire Kinloch, External Communications Director
As our 23/24 expedition teams from Braeview Academy in Dundee and Bucksburn Academy in Aberdeen complete their expedition and navigation training in the Cairngorms, the Polar Academy team is starting to finalise plans and put in motion our programme for next year’s cohort.
Whilst our own team works tirelessly 24/7 all year round, we still only achieve what we do with the support of our patrons, partners, donors, volunteers and schools. Critically our school partnerships are an extremely important part of what we do, making their selection decision every year incredibly tough. We need to ensure our programme is always delivered to plan, to the finest detail, with risks across all areas minimised and every young person supported and protected to provide the life changing experience we provide them with.
The teachers we work with need to have an in-depth understanding and empathy with their young people to ensure we can do our job properly when it comes to team selection. The schools’ leadership teams need to be committed from the very top, passionate, engaged and wholly committed to the programme throughout an entire 12 months, sometimes longer, providing weekly training facilities for their young people, helping us arrange training programme logistics all year round, attending training, cold chamber and endurance training themselves as well as providing local and regional opportunities to support our fundraising strategy to ensure every young person’s place on the programme is fully funded.
It is by no mean feat that schools put themselves forward for The Polar Academy. We have a waiting list and speak to schools frequently to understand who the best fit would be next schools to partner with. But wanting to see young people placed on our programme is one thing, committing to helping effectively deliver the programme and commit wholeheartedly is another.
This month we are conducting final interviews with selected schools for our 24/25 programme. We are always excited about meeting new leadership teams and understanding the extent of their understanding of what is involved with our programme. The level of commitment involved however should not be off putting because the return on that investment will not only have a long-term positive impact on each individual young person involved, but also positively reverberate across every school from the minute each school starts working with us.
We fully fund every participant that takes part in The Polar Academy; it costs £25,000 for one teenager to go through the full training programme and take part in the final Arctic expedition. We rely on the generosity and support of valued Patrons, Partners, Trusts, Foundations, and fundraising activities to fund our work.
Hear directly from Fiona McPherson (Depute School Improvement Manager at Braeview Academy in Dundee) about the school and team’s journey so far.