Teacher-led, progressive and inclusive residentials at Kirk Ella Primary School

Key features

  • Planned for pupils to become steadily more independent
  • Embedded in the curriculum to bring learning to life
  • Open, affordable and accessible to all pupils

Kirk Ella Primary School’s residential programme is a progressive one, in which pupils have the opportunity to experience three affordable overnight educational visits away from home in Year 2/3, Year 4 and again in Year 6. The number of nights away extends for each residential, enabling pupils to build their independence and experience the many benefits of residentials throughout their life at school.

Kirk Ella Primary is a Learning Away Champion School. In this case study, which describes their progressive residential programme as a whole, staff at the school explain how they provide brilliant residential experiences for all their pupils.

The school occupies a large site within the village of Kirk Ella, on the outskirts of Hull. It originates from a small Church of England school which was built circa 1860. Today the school is affiliated to the Diocese of York with a pupil roll of over 500. We consider it to be essential that the school should retain a family atmosphere and continue to play a central role in community life. Statutory assessment data shows that the pupil’s results are above the local and national average. Pupil Premium available to the school is lower than average, which means we operate within a very tight budget.

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

The curriculum is fully integrated into every residential we arrange, as we believe this encourages our pupils to learn and brings subjects to life. One example of this is the Year 6 residential to Eskdale YHA where we have a history and geography curriculum focus. Eskdale has a massive Roman history, and we take the pupils to the remains of an old Roman fort. Whilst there we turn the class into an army and give them full instructions on what they need to do. Returning to the grounds of the youth hostel, we make a game of collecting cones in teams, protected by Roman shields (hopefully in a tortoise formation) to avoid being hit by water bombs. The children have fantastic fun, whilst also learning so much about the hard life of Roman soldiers in England.

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

Our programme began with one four-night residential for Year 6 pupils. We later added a two-night residential in Year 4 (to better prepare them for Year 6) and, most recently, we have added the one-night ‘sleep-over’ residential in Year 2/3. We find this progressive approach makes residentials another key method of learning and teaching which is fully embedded into school life. The novelty of being away from home in Year 6 is still there, but the ‘excitement’ doesn’t get in the way of the learning experience.

Our residential programme therefore now includes:

  • Year 2/3 Sleep-over at the Deep – A one-night residential close to home in February at The Deep, an aquarium in Hull, where children can sleep in a unique setting amongst the world beneath the sea. Many of the children will experience a night away from home for the first time, whilst learning about sea habitats. This trip takes place every two years, but had previously been for Year 3/4, in which there was a take-up of roughly 90%. As our programme changed to incorporate our Year 4 residential, we saw the benefit of changing this into a Year 2/3 visit.
  • Year 4 Outdoor Adventure trip – A two-night weekend residential in May to Caythorpe Court in Lincolnshire. Children have the opportunity to experience new activities, challenge themselves and work as teams in a new environment. We adapt the package given to us by PGL to meet the specific learning and development needs of the pupils. About 85% of children attend this trip.
  • Year 6 Exploring Eskdale – A four-night residential at the end of June staying at YHA Eskdale, led entirely by school staff. This trip won ‘The Best School Trip Award” at the 2016 School Travel Awards. It struck a chord with the judging panel, who were impressed with the way the trip was fully led by school staff, how inclusive the trip was and the evaluation that took place afterwards.

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

The key to this is the age of the children. How new experiences are depends on how old the children are. For Year 2/3 it is being away for the first time and seeing fish floating around them in the night that makes for a memorable experience. For Year 4 it is those adventurous activities they wouldn’t experience at home and sharing a room with four people, not just a sleep-over at friend or family member’s house. By the time the children reach Year 6, we are able to step it up a gear, for example the children learn to work together more and take pride in organising themselves and their belongings. We arrange daily room inspections, where the children go above and beyond tidying their rooms, but they create interesting features of their rooms to entertain and impress school staff, such as a line of teddy bears reading books! Children get the chance to climb trees, paddle in streams, build dams, make bark carvings and learn through new experiences for the entire week.

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

We feel all of our residentials are affordable, because we make each one as low-cost as possible. We believe that our Year 6 residential is the cheapest five day residential in the county. We keep costs low by planning and delivering everything ‘in-house’ and using youth hostel accommodation. The school staff are the leaders of all the activities. The coach leaves at the start of the week and returns at the end, so we don’t have to pay for a coach for the whole week, and we use very local settings which don’t need expensive transport.

The school subsidises the Year 4 residential from school budget. Funding is generally provided by parental contributions. However, we never leave a child behind if they want to attend but parents cannot afford their contribution. Our aim is to have 100% attendance on all residentials and we are usually very close to achieving this every time.

How are your residentials supported by your senior leadership team?

The senior leadership team place high value on residential trips, which are seen as part of the ethos of the school. The school’s Sport & Educational Visits Coordinator leads all the residentials and, having seen the many benefits of the Year 6 residential, made the case to build in progression by extending the residential programme down the year groups. Very little convincing was needed to make this a whole-school approach.

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

Just like planning any class-based lesson, we look at what the pupils need and design the residentials to meet those individual and specific learning needs. We do this because it supports the pupils’ learning and if we don’t do this it won’t support learning – a residential just becomes an ‘added extra’. Also, if it is going to be a high-quality residential, it must have a purpose beyond just being nights away from home.

One example of how we meet learning needs is the way in which we organise pupils in matched groups on each residential in order to best meet their needs. Staff are also specifically placed to support and adapt to the needs of these groups.

How are your residentials led by teachers?

The Year 6 residential is entirely led by members of school staff i.e. teachers and teaching assistants. We consider the objectives and the learning needs, then source the venue, design the activities – day to night – and deliver them all. We find that this approach is not only much more affordable, but allows us to develop a very close relationship with the pupils. Relationships where trust and respect are at their highest and are taken back to the classroom when we return to school.

 The Year 4 residential has a different approach, as it is co-planned and co-delivered with PGL. But we do take a very proactive planning approach. Prior to the residential the programme is designed by our teaching staff to meet the learning needs of the specific pupils involved that year. A member of school staff is with each group at all points and the pastoral lead is a member of school staff, so that during each evening informal activities are planned so that relationships are being built with school staff and other pupils.  The benefits of these new relationships are then taken back to school. Year 5 staff also go on the Year 4 residential, so pupils and staff get to develop relationships that help to ease transition into their next year.

How do you involve your pupils in planning your residentials?

Before each residential, we hold a planning meeting with the pupils who are going. We go through everything about the trip, the options and ask them what they like. Things like, “What would you like to have in the tuck shop?”, “Who would you like to be in your group?” are asked and the answers taken on board during planning. Importantly, we also review the experience with the children at the end of each residential and use their comments and insights as we plan the next residential.

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

Everybody has to co-exist with each other all the time well beyond a ‘normal’ school day during a residential, and we prepare and encourage the pupils for this before they go away. One of the things we talk about in the meeting with them is that they will be tired and talk to them about how to deal with that and how to deal with others.

The children say they get to see another side of the staff; they come back with a renewed respect for their teachers and teaching assistants. They appreciate them as ‘real people’ as well as teachers in a classroom. They see that the values we teach are the values we live by. Importantly, they see that we really care about them as individuals.

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

We carry out evaluations with staff and children on return from the residentials, where we look at impacts and benefits. We do this by talking with everyone who attended the residential. As well as understanding the impacts, we make a note of anything that can be changed to improve the experience next time. We constantly evaluate the residential content against the curriculum. For example the activities planned for theYear 6 residential in 2017 have been changed to fit better with the new history and geography curriculum. This will involve a trip to the Windermere Lakeside Aquarium to enable us to explore ocean and river ecosystems of different continents.

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

All learning on the residentials is embedded back in the classroom once we get back to school.

  • For Year 6, the whole of the rest of the term is spent expanding on what was learnt on the residential to Eskdale.
  • For Year 4, the children develop new communication and team-working skills whilst taking part in adventurous outdoor activities like kayaking. These skills and ways of working continue to be built on and encouraged back in the classroom. Children often find that they have developed a whole new love for an activity and the school works with these children to help them find links to local outdoor centres, so they can continue to take part in adventurous activities outside of school.
  • For the Year 2/3 pupils, we reinforce the sea-life learning back in the classroom. The residential is an essential part of their ongoing classroom work, not an ‘added extra’. Also, the new relationships formed on the residential help to strengthen and offer more trust back in school.

Highlighting one specific residential

These are the words of a year 6 pupil following the trip to YHA Eskdale:

“For our residential, we went to Eskdale in the Lake District. It was amazing! Our residential lasted five days in the middle of June. Read on to find out what we did.

On our way, we stopped off at South Lakes Safari Zoo. We actually got to feed a variety of animals including giraffes and penguins. Our teacher told us about the animals all over the zoo and where they originate from. Feeding the penguins, we discovered that penguins in captivity only eat from someone’s hand; not from the floor. Picky penguins!

Climbing a ‘mountain’ to reach Hardknott Fort on the Tuesday, made us all run out of breath and boiling hot. We could only imagine how difficult the climb would have been for the Roman army in the middle of winter; especially when they had to climb it four or five times a day.  One of our teachers told us what an amazing ‘fighting machine’ the Romans were and what life was like for these soldiers. Of course, we had studied the Romans in Year 3, but seeing their fort up high made these Romans come alive.

On the third day, we visited Muncaster Castle. My favourite room there was the library that had over 8,000 books! I love reading.  I could just imagine myself curled up on the sofa, by the fire place with one ‘difficult’ decision – which book to read next.   Parts of the castle are still lived in by the Pennington family, but quite a bit of it can be visited by the public. The castle has many stories and one of them is where the expression ‘Don’t be a Tom Fool’ comes from.   Apparently, when Tom Fool was alive he would sit on a tree watching travellers trying to cross the River Esk. If they asked him where the best place would be to cross and he liked the look of these travellers, he would give them good advice. However, if he did not like the look of them, he would direct them to some quicksand and … certain death. Before Tom Fool died, he predicted that he would ‘drown’ in quicksand, which is exactly what happened.

On the fourth day, we visited the oldest working water mill in England. The mill is able to harness the fast flowing stream and apparently can power the village of Boot. Amazing!

Overall, our residential was the best trip I have ever been on – one that I will remember for a very, very long time.”