Developing leaders

At Arran Outdoor Education Centre, we pride ourselves on being a flagship facility for the delivery of a variety of Leadership Development Programmes to secondary pupils and staff within North Ayrshire.

Our courses have been developed over many years by experienced members of staff, including:

  • those whom have held management positions at National Centres or Residential Care Centres
  • ex-servicemen
  • civilian volunteers. 

The courses we deliver are each prepared individually to suit the client’s needs. These are discussed via consultation, and finalised prior to attendance.

We focus on two principal programmes, aimed at S3 and S5/6. The main concepts are preparing pupils for:

  • examinations, leaving school and going on to higher and further education
  • starting work and developing and maintaining a career

Course delivery

At Arran Outdoor Education Centre, our courses are:

  • delivered either as a weekend or week long duration
  • fully residential
  • based at the centre

The accommodation and facilities are among the finest of any UK outdoor education centre.

What’s involved?

There is a large commitment required from each participant both in time and physical effort.

The days are long, with evening sessions that are designed to underpin the daily activities that the pupils and staff participate in. As a result, all participants need to be totally committed.

Participants are often selected by the schools after having undergone a selection process which includes:

  • writing a letter of application
  • an interview]


The activities are designed to:

  • draw the participants out of their comfort zone
  • place them in uncommon environments

Activities also help participants develop new skills to set them up for:

  • future learning
  • starting employment
  • their future and prospective careers

Aims and outcomes

Courses are pitched at developing participants to:

  • fill an ambassadorial role
  • help promote ownership of their school

Some of the aims and outcomes of the courses are to identify and develop the following:

  • understanding small and large team dynamics
  • discovering and learning more about themselves and peers
  • identifying individual strengths and weaknesses
  • developing coping strategies to deal with being in unfamiliar environments
  • developing and promoting leadership qualities
  • promoting positivism, but understanding how to deal with failure when it happens
  • developing self-confidence, resilience and trust in others

By strengthening character and individual development, we can promote and increase attainment – not only through a young person’s education, but also in their later life.


Through participation and engagement in our courses, we find that there is tangible success. There is a noticeable difference in mindset and attitude from pupils and staff alike, from arriving to the day they leave.

We have had extremely positive feedback from schools who already actively participate in the centre’s Leadership Development Programme.

Through the daily activities and evening workshops, the students have started to identify:

  • what barriers and hurdles they may face in life
  • their own individual strengths and weaknesses
  • strategies they have, or can develop, to overcome them

Along with focusing on a team dynamic, this helps consolidate and secure this.

Many students have arrived on a Monday identifying themselves as solitary people, before leaving on Friday as superb members of a team after discovering how to “fit in”.

Final presentation

At the end of the course, all participants help to deliver a final presentation. On the week long course, this will often have senior staff and councillors from North Ayrshire Council in attendance.

The presentations are an important part of benchmarking:

  • successes gained from the course
  • pathways forward

“True leaders don’t create followers – they create more leaders”

Darryl Urquhart-Dixon, Leadership Development Programme Coordinator, Arran Outdoor Education Centre