Grown adults strapped to blocks of ice hurling themselves down a length of plastic sheeting might not scream international educational fact-finding opportunity, but there it is.

A delegation of academic and charitable groups from four different countries observed this year’s Surbiton Ski Sunday and were convinced such strange ideas are actually good for the mind.

The visitors – from Germany, Hungary, Malta and the Netherlands – hope to pursuade EU bosses that social and emotional learning is worthy of funding alongside traditional education.

And the consortium, that also includes International Youth Arts Festival organisers Creative Youth, said events like Ski Sunday are real-world examples of that kind kind of learning – where people, often strangers, come together for organised silliness and community camaraderie.

German-Hungarian Roberto Kohlstedt said: “You have to somehow sell the idea that it’s important.

“You need to sell that to the politicians and the policy makers, and obviously it’s not a sexy message.

“You don’t want the third generation of unemployed people – we want to help them to help themselves.”

Surrey Comet: Ski Sunday 2.JPG

Last weekend's Ski Sunday, which was attended by a consortium of academics researching social and emotional learning

Anna Racz, who runs a charitable foundation in Budapest, was impressed by the King’s Soup, which takes place every year after Ski Sunday and sees participants cook potato and leek soup together for a fictional grumpy king.

She said: “It’s very different to what you witness in other countries.

“Adult participants were actively involved and they behaved like children – in a good way.

“You had to do the washing up – you didn’t just take part in the easy part.”

Kingston College has won a national award for its work on social and emotional learning, and to date more than 100 colleges from across the UK have visited to find out how it helps kids who have had difficult childhoods.

Surrey Comet:


Principal Peter Mayhew-Smith said: “We have said we shouldn’t have low expectations of these students. We should expect them to behave well and mature and grow up as sensible people.

“We take our students in from day one through a programme that tells them how they’re going to be ambassadors and model citizens.”

Use your loaf

* There is a chance for more social and emotional learning next month, when this year’s British Bread Golf Open takes place at Eagle Brewery Wharf in Kingston.

Head to Woody’s Bar, from 1pm to 3pm,  on Sunday, November 23, to see if you can land a dough ball in the floating target in the Thames.