Ten Tors

“Ten Tors is a great event that fosters a spirit of adventure in young people and allows them to push themselves to realise their capabilities. For many, it will be the hardest thing they have attempted in their lives so far.” (Mr de Villiers)

Huge congratulations to Jack Hoskin, Bella Nash, Brett Barnes, Aron Snell, Niall Blackbeard and Josh Barden Waters for completing the 2016 35 mile Ten Tors challenge with Team Penrice, and to William Cranfield-Thompson and Jack Lawther, who completed it with the Cadets. Read an interview with William here.

Read this year’s Roundup from Penrice Academy Ten Tors Team Manager, Mr de Villiers, below.


So it’s all done for the year. Our six students completed the challenge and got back in time for tea and medals. They have received praise and congratulations from all directions. This praise is well deserved; they completed the event and completed it well, in a time that future Penrice teams may struggle to compete with.

However, to me, it’s not just about the achievement and the recognition. It’s also about the journey itself. For students and staff alike, it’s about the shared experiences and spirit of adventure, the stepping out into the wild, the striving to improve, the determination and commitment to the group endeavour and the personal discoveries made along the way.

Upward of twenty students joined us on this journey back in November. All of the students who joined us on that first training day on Bodmin Moor impressed us with their willingness to persevere for hours through the swirling mists and relentless torrential rain. All, I hope, will feel they have gained in some way from having challenged themselves to keep on going as they did.

Those that came back out again, to their credit, and pushed themselves beyond their normal limits on the selection days in December and beyond, can all be even more proud. My one regret is that more were not able cross the finish line in May.

Where we are now

There is now an established culture of Ten Tors at Penrice. Some of last year’s students, having had their very respectable time beaten, are eager to get back to prove themselves on the 45 mile challenge. Year 9 students witnessing the success of their friends are becoming inspired to try out next year. Younger students, including siblings of past team members, will be waiting their turn to have a go at the challenge themselves.

I feel it is time to expand our provision beyond just one team. I believe there is sufficient student appetite for three teams: two 35s and a 45. Staffing wise, however, I’m not sure that I will be able to commit to more than two teams in 2017, unless I find some way of running a third team in partnership with an external organization.

Teams for 2017

We discussed various options for the structures and selection criteria for future teams with the core team of students involved in the challenge this year.

A clear message we received  was that more girls would  feel inspired to join the programme if they were not put in direct competition with boys for team places. Other options were discussed, such as having a competitive 35 team and an achievement oriented 35 team, but the feedback received from the girls indicated a clear preference for gender separated teams. The boys were more inclined toward mixed teams, but I feel I have to support the girls if separate teams is their preference. I have started making enquiries with some female members of staff to see if there would be any parties interested in helping to support and mentor a girls team, and early indications are promising.

The students felt that the practice of allowing past team members back on 35 mile teams if they contributed significantly to group leadership was something that should continue, but that, overall, team composition should be predominantly newcomers.

This year, the stated criteria for selection was simply that I wanted to field the most competent and cohesive team I could, in order to cement our reputation as a successful Ten Tors establishment. Whilst personal physical and navigational competence should form the main part of the selection process, it is proposed that an individual’s enthusiasm and engagement with the process will also be taken into account next year. The team agreed that this would be better as it gives all students in school a reasonable chance to succeed.

In terms of developing our provision to include a 45 mile team, this is definitely something I want to do and I have received approval from school leadership for this. However, in my view, this would take second priority to getting a girls 35 team established. A 45 mile team can only include students from year 11. Training up new students in their GCSE year may prove difficult, so it would mostly have to be students that had previously completed Ten Tors at 35 miles that would make the team. I hope we can put together a 45 team, but in terms of student and staff numbers it may be necessary to find a suitable partnership with an organization external to Penrice. I will be working on this, but any suggestions on this matter are very welcome from parents and students.

Next Steps

Students wanting to be involved again next year should talk to friends and get a clear idea of who is interested, ready to let me know by September, so that I can assess the viability of running different teams. I look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing some of you out with us again. Thanks for a great year.

Mr de Villiers