Lumen Learning Trust – Creating a Brilliant Residential Narrative

Key features

  • Residentials are planned with the needs of the children and curriculum dictating the aims
  • Low cost and affordable for all
  • Parental buy-in through greater school communication

The Lumen Learning Trust is a collection of three Primary schools in Surrey. With almost 1,600 pupils, the three schools draw from a concentrated area, with a wide range of languages and backgrounds. Although each school is very different to the others, and has its own persona, all three schools operate under the same ethos of enabling each child to achieve, regardless of background or income. To this end, we are constantly exploring and investing in opportunities and projects which help this aim.

Lumen Learning Trust is a Learning Away Champion School. In this case study, Curriculum Enrichment Leader, Stephen Lockyer explains how their revamped residential programme gives access to every child in Key Stage Two of the Trust to attend at least one residential, and has a minimum cost of just £10. Stephen explains that:

“Our take up on residentials is far greater than historical numbers, and teachers are enormously enthused by the pupil-led programme.”

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

All the residentials have been designed so that they follow the same skeletal model, but are fleshed out by the needs of both the children and the curriculum. This allows more ownership for the teachers leading the residentials, and a more relevant experience for the children. At our Year 6 city residential in Bristol for example, we tied in some of the learning with World War II (a topic in Year 6), with relevant information on the effect of the war on people in Bristol.

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

We noticed that take-up for our Year Four programme was low, and ascertained that this was because it was the first residential for the majority of our children, and was asking them to spend two nights away from home. We addressed this by putting on a low-cost overnight school sleepover in Year 3. This was attended by almost 90% of our Year Three pupils. They now have the experience of sleeping away from home for one night.

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

We wanted to ensure there was a narrative to our residentials, so that the next trip made sense and built on the last one. Too often, other residential programmes seemed to be chosen either historically (“we always go here”) or randomly, with no progression. We planned our residentials around location, price, experience and nights away:

  • Year 3 – At school, £10, curriculum topics, one night away (no transport)
  • Year 4 – Camping, £175, extra-curricular STEAM events, two nights away under canvas (adults drop and collect from local campsite)
  • Year 5 – Outdoor Challenge, £300, sports & group challenges, four nights away in designated dorm block (90 minute coach journey)
  • Year 6 – City residential, £240, cultural tour, four nights away in a YHA (two hour coach journey)

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

We never want to restrict a financial restraint from allowing a child to attend, so offer support through bursaries where necessary, and also offer all parents a flexible payment plan in the months leading up to the trip. We negotiate with companies on their costs, and organise all but the Outdoor Pursuits trip in-house, to remove the middle-man costing of an agent. This has seen the prices reduce over time, ensuring the parents are getting the very best value for money. For example, we chose a campsite for our Year 4 festival close enough to allow adults to drop their children off, removing the £27 per head cost of a coach.

How are your residentials supported by your senior leadership team?

I am the dedicated Enrichment Leader, and part of my remit is to organise these trips. As part of the Senior Leadership Team, I takes on opinions and views of the school SLTs, gearing the residentials to their needs. As a result, the SLTs are enormously supportive of the residentials, with at least one member of the team attending almost all events.

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

With each residential, planning is made with the Year teachers. They decide the best outcomes for the trip, and work back to that. Learning is core to each of the residentials, and we try to offer experiences and events that would either be challenging to put on in school, or prohibitively expensive as a one-off. For example, the cost of a Planetarium visiting the school for one year group was more than £10 a head, but we were able to offer this for under £5 as part of our Bristol residential.

How are your residentials led by teachers (and, where/when appropriate, students)?

All our residentials are led by teachers. The only exception to this are activities in which we are either not insured to do so (such as rock climbing) or where a better expert is appropriate (such as the CSI Science activity at our Year 4 residential). It is often the Year Leader of each school who leads, and ideally with the children’s teachers and Teaching Assistants accompanying, to gain the benefit of working in a different environment with the children.

Some activities are chosen by students, and we try to offer choice where possible.

How do you involve students in planning your residentials?

Those teachers planning residentials start by looking at the needs of their students. In some trips, there is a freedom to let the children choose certain activities. In other cases, it may be that the class teacher discusses with the class the options and opportunities available to them. Testament to this process is the Year 5 outdoor pursuits residential, where the programme for one school was almost unrecognisable from another school who attended the following week. As a Trust, we are avowed ‘cookie-cutter experience’ avoiders. In other cases, the students contribute more than just planning; at the Year 3 sleepover for example, they design and make their own supper.

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

We decided as a Trust to make two key changes – firstly, to remove the ‘end of year’ residentials, as these we felt had become loaded with ‘reward’ rather than ‘experience,’ which of course impinged on those children who didn’t attend. Secondly, we planned the times for the residentials to best exploit the opportunities for greater relationships between adults and children. By placing the majority of our residentials in the Spring Term, this allows those adults who attended to draw on the prior experiences in class. We firmly believe this benefits the children hugely too.

We also put a large emphasis on collaboration between students during residentials. They sleep in gender groups in Year 3, and from Year 4 onwards sleep and operate in smaller groups, encouraging a team cohesion and better team dynamic.

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

After each residential, staff are questioned and surveyed about their likes and dislikes of the residential. We also perform a post-mortem, so that we can better plan the next experience. Because of the narrative structure, we can let this feedback actually impact future trips for specific cohorts, rather than simply patting ourselves on the back.

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

Each class teacher is asked to ensure that the residential experience feeds back into class at a level which is sympathetic to those who didn’t attend for a particular reason. This is not done on a prescriptive sense, more ad-hoc  – our teachers are encouraged to use their experiences with the children to enhance the learning.

Highlighting one specific residential

Our Year 4 residential, RISE:UP, is a residential unlike any we have ever seen. Set over three days, it is a festival for almost 200 children, where they will be eating festival food, dancing in a Silent Disco, launching paper rockets, learning to samba drum, taking street dance lessons, laughing at professional comedy night, solving crimes in a CSI environment, and trying to solve their very own escape room. This has been organised entirely in house, and has an enormous buzz about it from all the children.