Students set record time in final challenge before tackling the Highest Classroom on Earth in The Rock and Road Wales 24 Ultra 200

The final ten young people with special educational needs have been chosen to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime challenge; the Highest Classroom on Earth after partaking in the rigorous The Rock and Road Wales 24 Ultra 200.

Pioneered by The Springfields Academy in Calne, Wiltshire, the Highest Classroom on Earth will see ten children with complex learning difficulties and challenging behaviour climb to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar, which is 1500 ft above Base Camp in October 2013.

The successful ten students are:

  • Aaron Barber from The Kingfisher School,  Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Jack Edgell from Coln House School, Fairford, Gloucestershire
  • Ryan House from the New Horizons Learning Centre, Kingswood, South Gloucestershire
  • Josh Kitchen from Notton House School, Lacock, Wiltshire
  • Cole Nother from the Muntham House School, Horsham, West Sussex
  • Dominic Price-Santos from the Newbridge Learning Community, Wigan, Greater Manchester
  • Joshua Simpson from The William Henry Smith School, Brighouse, West Yorkshire
  • Brandon Tanner from Penkford School, St Helens, Merseyside
  • Bradley Walters from The Springfields Academy, Calne, Wiltshire
  • George Yeoman from The Springfields Academy, Calne, Wiltshire

The Rock and Road Wales 24 Ultra 200 challenge was established by The Springfields Academy, which was named as the Times Educational Supplement’s Overall School of the Year 2012.  A total of 16 students, four of its own students along with 12 other students from schools nationwide, completed The Rock and Road Wales 24 Ultra 200 challenge in the final selection process to climb Everest.

The Springfields Academy created the scrupulous event for the students from around the UK who have higher function autism or challenging behaviour. The group of sixteen climbed the Welsh Three Peaks, Cadair Idris, Pen y Fan and Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, in a 24-hour period before being whittled down to just ten.

Showing their support for the students’ extraordinary effort, a group of elite athletes raced the students by cycling 200 miles from Cardiff Castle to Caernarfon Castle.

The students finished the 200 mile journey in a blistering time of 23 hours 30 minutes, three minutes faster than athletes who were also taking part.

Despite torrential rain and gale force winds, on the first day they managed 24 miles and the first peak of Pen y Fan. The second day the weather improved though the team were harassed by midges during their attempt to scale Cadair Idris.

On the final day of the challenge, there was a great team effort with everyone getting up at 5:30 am to complete a high ropes course and a 70ft ‘Leap of Faith’ where everyone was tested their endurance by jumping from a large wooden platform.

The following two and a half hours saw the team take the two longest routes up Snowdon, a total of 15 miles. On the descent, the young team members overtook the athletes which seemed to spur them to the finish line.

Over 150 friends and family were waiting to congratulate them including Guto Bebb, the MP for Conwy County and Welsh Government Minister Alun Ffred Jones.

After the event, the tough decision had to be made to choose the final ten who will climb Everest Base Camp in the Himalayas.

The Springfields Academy is known worldwide for its Extreme Classroom project, which takes students to extreme environments to build their self-belief.

Trystan Williams, Principal of The Springfields Academy, said: “The standard this year was exceptionally high and it was an extremely rigorous and challenging task to choose the final ten students. All of them are remarkable. They have made their schools proud and the students should be applauded for showing such courage. Many congratulations to the ten students who are in the top ten. Everest, here we come!”

The ten successful participants in The Highest Classroom on Earth will see the Khumbu Glacier, the base of Kala Patthar which was the original base camp used by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their successful ascent of Everest.

The Highest Classroom on Earth Expedition will take place in October 2013:  


Editorial contacts:
Emma De Maio
Tel: 07921 160 134

The Springfields Academy – Backgrounder

The Springfields Academy is an award-winning visionary educational institution like no other. Providing support for vulnerable children with complex learning difficulties and challenging behaviour, this specialist residential school is known for its world class standard of innovation in the educational sector.

The Springfields Academy has an impressive track record of awards. In the 2012 Times Educational Supplement Awards, they scooped two titles: Outstanding School of the Year and Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year. In the same year they also achieved the Special Education Needs Provision Award at the Business Education Awards.

By working with international partner schools and delivering a global dimension to curriculum-based work, The Springfields Academy achieved the full award level of accreditation from the International School Awards in 2009.

The vision at The Springfields Academy is to inspire self-belief among vulnerable children. The academy provides extensive academic and vocational opportunities for pupils, nurturing their education and interests. Pupils are enabled to develop their self confidence by demonstrating and building on their abilities, sharing it with their peers.

One of the many groundbreaking initiatives of The Springfields Academy is “The Extreme Classroom”, created by Principal Trystan Williams and Alan Chambers, MBE, Former Royal Marine Commando, a renowned, determined and inspirational figure most known for his expeditions in the Polar Regions. The intrinsic belief driving this project is that pupils excel when they are challenged, pushing them beyond the limits of expectation. The unique initiative presents an opportunity for pupils to develop self-belief, overcome adversity and prove a point to themselves and others who may have written them off. Vice Principal, Jon Hamp has lead and consolidated the development of this concept since its initiation.

Through The Extreme Classroom concept Trystan has the objective to raise awareness about complex learning difficulties and challenging behaviour: the project has become the subject of documentaries filmed and aired by the BBC. The Hottest Classroom on Earth expedition in 2012 involved an eight-day trip to the African Rift Valley in Tanzania, in which ten pupils gained first-hand experience of the nomadic lifestyle of the Maasai tribes people. In 2011, The Coldest Classroom on Earth saw four pupils trek in near Arctic Circle. This year the selected students will face a Mount Everest Base Camp trek in The Highest Classroom on Earth, whilst plans for more of The Extreme Classroom programmes are in the pipeline.

The unique academy reaches several international locations. As a member of the Connecting Classrooms education programme, they have partnerships with Yanbu, the Vocational School in Nanhai, China, Ahmad Toqan School in Jordan, and CIEP Mane Garrincha School in Mage, Brazil. The partnerships have facilitated students, and teachers, to experience a world of different culture and language, visit the schools abroad, and establish valuable connections with the Internationally-linked schools. Plans have also been made to install video conferencing facilities for communication with other schools in countries across the globe, including Mexico and Texas.

The Springfields Academy believes in providing comprehensive support for families, offering family and parenting support groups, as well as the option to use a family link worker.

Established in 1999, the academy has developed a wealth of expertise in educating pupils for qualifications within several sectors, including hospitality and catering, hair and beauty, sports, construction, leisure and the motor industry.

Accredited courses in animal care and horticulture, together with therapeutic activity sessions for young people have also become available, thanks to the academy’s foundation of the Greenfields Farm in 2012. The site’s entire development was overseen by The Springfields Academy, and it has become the community hub for sharing horticultural knowledge and experience.  As part of their ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ Curriculum, The Springfields Academy aim to educate pupils about sustainable farming, as they believe time spent outdoors is highly valuable to instil a sense of constructiveness and teamwork.

The Springfields Academy is a specialist sports college, offering high level coaching for gifted children, and delivering sport for all.

The Springfields Academy have 90-100 pupils boarding full-time, and teachers also educate 500 students aged between seven and seventeen, some of which are from other schools.

For further information, visit

Twitter: @SpringfieldsAcd,