Forty pupils in Year 4 at Beech Grove Primary School, Wellington, attended a two-day Alex Ryder Spy Academy at St Briavels Castle Youth Hostel in Lydney in the Forest of Dean earlier in the Spring Term.
The course is based on the Alex Ryder novels and aims to “turn students into super agents, reap the rewards of team work, enjoy the thrills of the great outdoors, and ignite a passion for reading.”
Scanned on arrival, the children had to choose their spy name using an adjective for their christian name and an animal for their surname. This proved to be entertaining, leading to examples such as ‘Lime Cheetah’, ‘Jagged Jaguar’, ‘Indigo Mouse’ and ‘Sapphire Penguin’.
Half the pupils played inventive team games after lunch on the first day whilst the rest learnt archery skills. They then built a secret den, using branches and leaves for camouflage.
For the evening banquet all spies became medieval characters – appropriately as they were in a castle.
The task before bed was to design a spy gadget using an ordinary object – a glass, jewellery or a toy to disguise useful spy equipment such as video and x-ray.
The next morning after a filling breakfast it was on to code-breaking, observation and circuit and team tasks. After lunch it was time for the journey home with pupils reported to be ‘tired but enthusiastic about the trip’. Everyone in the group was presented with a graduation certificate and a copy of ‘Stormbreaker’ by Antony Horowitz, one of the novels in the Alex Ryder series.