STUDENTS at Malvern College found themselves blindfolded and dropped off in the country miles from home as part of a new challenge.

The Lost project was designed to encourage students to develop resilience and self-reliance.

Without their smartphones and watches, and with no map or compass, eleven pairs of pupils, one from each boarding house, had volunteered to be dropped 40km from school, camping overnight and using their ingenuity to find a way back as quickly as possible.

Safeguards were built into the challenge, with a teacher following each pair at a distance, not to help but to ensure they followed the rules and to intervene in case of an emergency.

Jay Watts, the school's outdoor pursuits coordinator, who devised the challenge, said: "It’s a big ask for children of 14 or 15.

“Many of our pupils fly academically but they’ve never been lost in their lives, always having a mapping app to hand.

"Lost made them take the initiative, plan strategically and cope with setbacks. Some went into hotels and shops to ask for directions; others flagged down the police or got hold of maps.

"Banning the use of their smartphones forced them to engage with people. They were extremely heartened by just how helpful and kind strangers were.”

The winners were Jayda Khimji and Chioma Anazoda, both 15, who arrived back at Malvern College 14 hours and three minutes after being dropped off near Leominster.

“It was a real adventure and we were first sent the wrong way, but soon realised we needed to ask people where we were and head for the nearest public transport,” said Jayda.

“I loved having to think on my feet,” said Chioma. “It was an amazing, confidence-boosting experience, working out a strategy and getting home so quickly. Best of all, the money raised will go to our house charity, sponsoring a young Vietnamese girl through school, which is a great feeling.”

Head Antony Clark said: “Those pupils were certainly up for a challenge and the exercise was both in support of a charity and fun. Taking young people out of their comfort zone is a critically important part of their broader education.”