Independent learning developed through low-cost residentials which include every child

Key features

  • Progressive residential programme
  • Inclusive package, no pupil gets left behind
  • Staff-led, with residentials embedded within the curriculum

Gledhow Primary is larger than average and rapidly growing community primary school in north Leeds, with 555 students on the roll. Approximately 40% of pupils are from minority ethnic groups and for around 13% of pupils English is believed not to be their first language. It is a school where children learn in a happy, caring and secure environment in which every child is encouraged and challenged to aim for the best that they can achieve in all that they do.

Gledhow develops independence in learning and values this equally alongside academic achievement in all areas of the curriculum.

Gledhow’s residential programme is inclusive, progressive, and embedded within the curriculum, no child gets left behind and every child gets the opportunity to develop independence, resilience and a greater love of their subjects. The residentials are entirely staff led staying in youth hostels with YHA (England and Wales).

The programme includes:

  • Year 4 – One night away in the Yorkshire Dales staying at Malham YHA in June
  • Year 5 – Two nights away in ‘Bronte’ country at Haworth YHA  in March
  • Year 6 – Three nights on the Yorkshire coast staying at Whitby YHA in September, this will be moving to a winter based residential for 2018/19 to draw on the benefit of a greater return on the schools investment during this season. Possibly Waddow Hall near Clitheroe.

How are your residentials integrated with the school’s curriculum and ethos?

The programme of residentials at Gledhow has been developed and refined over many years under the expertise of Mr Keith Dixon who retired in 2017. Mr Dixon’s approach was to utilise the residentials as a tool for learning beyond the classroom, immersing the pupils in their subject area whilst building relationships between pupils and school staff and between the pupils themselves.  The residentials are integrated into the curriculum as follows:

  • Year 4 residential to Haworth YHA links to the history curriculum exploring industry and local businesses and changing transport systems with the railway.  English literature is also brought to life in the home of the great Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte.
  • Year 5 residential to the Yorkshire Dales staying at Malham YHA links to the Geography curriculum with a village study and exploring physical geography in the Malham landscape (rivers, erosion and limestone).
  • The year 6 residential to Whitby YHA on the Yorkshire coast explores the contract between Whitby (a coastal town) and Leeds (a land locked city) this integrates a range of subjects including English (Diary Writing), Maths (planning finances), history (The History of Whitby as a fishing town), geography (Physical and Human aspects of the local land) and art (Mixed-Media Illustrations of Whitby Landmarks).

All the residentials have a pre and post work programme which prepares students and embeds the learning back in the classroom on return to school.

How have you developed your residentials so they are part of a progressive programme of experiences?

From the moment a pupil starts at Gledhow there is a comprehensive schedule for the children to experience learning beyond the classroom. This includes visits outside the classroom linked to subjects or external speakers / performances / workshops visiting school to bring a particular subject to life. The residentials are part of this learning beyond the classroom experience for the children. Residential experiences have been molded around changes to the curriculum; they are either arranged at the beginning of a new topic or as a culmination at the end of a topic to inspire the children.

No matter which year of study the residential takes place, the children have to take personal responsibility for their learning: there is onus upon them to take notes; keep a diary; and reflect on their experience back at school.

How have you designed your residentials so that they include a wide range of new and memorable experiences?

Creating lasting memories is at the core of Glashow’s residentials! In Year 4 many of these memorable experiences come from the ‘smaller’ practical things which come at no cost, such as making their bed, preparing their lunch and sharing a room with other people in their class. This builds up to outdoor activities that often put the children out of their comfort zones such as climbing a hill in Haworth.  Mostly, it is about being with their classmates in a different setting so they can share and develop emotional bonds together.

Are you residentials inclusive and affordable for all your students and how do you ensure this happens?

Firstly all the residential experiences as designed to be as low cost as possible, this is made possible through a combination of: 1) staying at youth hostels, which offers high-quality facilities at a low cost 2) having teachers lead the activities, ensuring a greater bonds between the teachers and pupils 3) staying overnight within two hours of school, keeping transport costs down.

The residential experiences are paid for through a combination of parent / carer contribution and pupil premium. Parent / carers are informed well in advance and a payment plan in put in place. There is a 50% discount children who receive pupil premium, however, if a child’s parent / carer is unable to make a financial contribution, they are never left behind, and pupil premium is used to support this.

How are your residentials supported by the senior leadership team?

Residentials are part of the ethos of Gledhow and are recognized as a critical component of school life. The school has appointed an outdoor learning lead, Michael Walker, who is now responsible for the year 6 residential following the retirement of Mr Dixon. Mr Walker has formed a residential ‘learning’ team and is exploring options to move the year 6 residential to a winter residential to Waddow Hall in October/November, when the benefits are often greater and the costs are lower.

How and why do you plan your residentials with learning objectives to meet students’ specific learning needs?

The individual education plans at Gledhow encompass the residential experiences. Pupil’s individual learning needs are reated as they would with any other lesson plan.

For children with IEPs or EHC plans, objectives specifically achievable on residentials are written in to their plans. This enables them, with support, to meet their individual objectives whilst still fully engaging with the programme.

How are your residentials led by teachers?

The residentials are entirely led by teachers, here is an example of one of the programmes:

Thursday 7th June

7.30  Get up, wash and dress

8.15  Breakfast followed by case packing.

9.00  Preparation for day’s activities and School room work

10.15  Settlement study of Malham / Sedimenary rock science workshop (Led by Class Teacher)

11.15  Sedimenary rock science workshop / Settlement study of Malham

12.30  Lunch in Malham Village

1.00  Depart Malham

2.30  Arrive back at Gledhow

Students also play a key role in leading the residentials with the children taking specific responsibilities from things like spokespeople to being group leaders. Children will also lead presentations and discussions when they come back and present in front of the school.

How do you involve students in planning your residentials?

Gledhow are in the process of changing the year 6 residentials and Mr Walker is canvassing children’s opinion on what they would like to do. Mr Walker does this with all aspects of developing the schools outdoor learning. Speaking about this approach to involving students Mr Walker comments:

“We get the most out of the outdoor learning experiences for our children if they are involved in the planning and decision making. We have a good mixture of calm and balanced children who are keen to give me their views on where we go and what we do. I actively seek out their views by engaging with the school council and asking class teachers to hold discussions with their class. The school council is always involved in decisions. I find that if we give the children this privilege and respect, they never let me down. I find that if you include the children in planning, doing and evaluating, they will be more proud.”

How are your residentials designed to allow students to develop collaborative relationships with peers and staff?

Mr Walker explains that this is at the heart of what Gledhow’s residentials are about. “They get to see their teachers in a different environment which makes them more ‘human’ and ordinary approachable people. The teachers travel with the pupils, they eat with the pupils, they do handstands in front of the children, and are around at bedtime.”

In terms of collaboration between peers, which children share a bedroom seems to be the biggest deal breaker before the first residential in year 4, as the children always want to stay within their friendship groups. But this becomes less important in year 5 and 6 as they realise that they have different friends in the class and the residential is about much more than midnight snacks the lights are out! This is particularly the case in year 6 when we explain the need to ‘step up’ and prepare them for the move to high school where they will be mixing with new groups.

How do you evaluate the impact of your residentials to ensure that they do meet those long term learning objectives?

This is really critical for Gledhow, the school feels that if they are going to spend critical teacher and pupil time preparing, planning and going on residentials they need to know they are working, they also need to make sure they are getting value for money. Gledhow conduct surveys with the pupils and parents after each residential, they use these surveys to evaluate the impact, the positives and the areas for improvement. There is then an informal process and dialogue about how the school improves the residential programme that takes place with the staff.

Mr Walker recognizes that evaluating the new year 6 residential will be critical going forward.

How do you try to embed and reinforce learning once back at school?

All residentials have a tailored work book which is used before, during and after the residential.