Cost is often identified as one of the main barriers preventing schools from offering residential experiences to all of their students as an integrated and progressive part of their curriculum. To help schools make decisions about how best to run their own residentials, this suite of case studies explores the costs involved in different models.
Many of the Learning Away schools based their residentials at provider centres, with the average cost being £66.72 per pupil per night (cppn), covering a range of £50 to £84 cppn.
These figures make the residential centre model the most expensive used by the Learning Away schools (£14.42 cppn more expensive than DIY residentials), but schools had specific reasons for using centres, including:
- The need to use specialist facilities and activities to meet particular student learning needs and widen their perspectives on life
- In the case of special schools, meeting additional support and medical needs that could only be achieved in residential centres
- Access to staff with specialist skills
- Access to a particular type of environment for learning
- Providing the beds and staffing levels for whole year groups to be on residential together
- A strong and ongoing relationship between the school and centre staff, which was important in the development of progressive models.
Learning Away schools delivered a wide variety of residentials at centres that involved, for example: focusing on literacy (particularly in primary schools); mixing intensive subject-based learning with adventurous activities (particularly in secondary schools); focusing on identified areas for personal development e.g. leadership, social skills, resilience, transition; providing a context for work experience at secondary level; immersing young people in a particular area of learning started in school e.g. sustainability.
Thomas Tallis Partnership in south London developed a relationship with a centre in Kent less than an hour’s drive from the three schools involved. The partnership delivered residentials for both primary and secondary students at this centre. Although the residential models were all different, they shared a common core, using a democratic model of community learning (the Mango Model), which you can read more about here. Staff from across the partnership and the centre were trained in the model together in order that there was a shared understanding of how the schools would work; find out more in this case study.
The primary school’s Year 4 two-night, three-day residentials focused on personal development and social skills, developing teamwork through using the centre’s range of outdoor, equipment-based challenges that had to be attempted and solved in groups. The extensive, safe, outdoor area was used to give the children much more space to play than they had in their local area, which the school found not only improved children’s relationships and their level of wellbeing, but also increased their resilience – particularly around getting clothes and shoes muddy, which for London children can be a big deal! Sole use of the centre meant that evening activities could be co-constructed by staff and children together, creating a real sense of community. The cost of these residentials was £66.00 cppn.
The costed example in this case study of a secondary residential is for a one-night, two-day Year 9 residental with a focus on maths attainment. A unique feature of this residential within Learning Away was its concentration on peer tutoring. The school had identified a need for an additional focus on core subjects for an underachieving group, and decided to combine a focus on maths skills with an opportunity for the Year 9 ‘gifted and talented’ students to tutor their peers. This small group was taken on residential for one night at a cost of £50.00 cppn so that they could plan and try out team maths tasks using the centre’s outdoor challenges. The larger Year 9 cohort identified as needing additional support with maths arrived at the centre the next day, and rotated around the team maths-based activities planned and delivered by their peers. Being taught by their peers went down well with the Year 9s on the receiving end, as these comments from two students illustrate:
“We were getting taught by students so it was kind of fun…. It was better cos you didn’t have as much pressure as you would with the teacher. You both understand each other.”
“It’s easier to say if you don’t understand. With a teacher it’s harder but with your friend you can just say ‘Say it again.'”
South Hetton partnership residentials are mostly camp based. However, each year, two students from each class from Year 2 to 6 go on a residential to an outdoor centre to be trained as leaders. They are chosen as differently ‘gifted and talented’ children with an aptitude for practical activities and social skills. The centre staff teach them how to run a range of activities which they then lead for their peers on camping trips, in the school grounds and in break times in the playground. The outdoor activity cards produced by the Outdoor Education Advisor’s Panel have been especially helpful as a resource for these pupils. The benefits of the cost of this investment are not only being seen on the residentials and in the school grounds – the pupils involved have also taken on leadership roles in the classroom. Read more about these young leaders here.
Calderglen partnership are keen to maintain progression from the transition residentials run with the primary schools that feed the local secondary school. Early in the first term the whole year group go away for a three-day residential at an outdoor centre in Scotland or the north of England. Only by working with a large outdoor centre is it possible to take the whole year group away. The centres provide extra beds and additional staffing – this latter factor is important as the school is unable to bring every member of staff if would like to due to cover implications. There are other benefits including a new place to visit and new activities led by experts. The role modeling and friendliness of the young instructors at the centre is also valued by the students, and in some cases has led to students developing career aspirations. School staff are still involved and, on some occasions, have negotiated with the centre to lead simpler activities for part of each day. This involvement lowers the cost and gets staff involved with the young people, making the most of the chance to develop better relationships with their new students. A typical cost for this provision has been £84.16 cppn for a three-day residential, which is is funded largely by parents with the help of school funds.