This case study describes a learning away exchange residential between Goonhaven Primary School in rural Cornwall and Twickenham Primary School in the north of Birmingham. Twickenham Primary is a school with high ethnic diversity in inner city Birmingham, which therefore offers a huge contrast to the rural village from where our pupils come.
It was our intention to use this residential experience to raise pupil aspirations and give an insight into the different ways in which people live and work. It was also our intention to raise our pupils’ awareness of a multicultural society and develop mutual respect and understanding between the pupils of the two schools. Twickenham Primary School make a return visit to our school in Cornwall as part of the Learning Away project.
A residential of this magnitude is a big step for our Year 6 children. The personal and social development outcomes of coping with this challenge are also a major aspect of our project. It was our hope that this would impact on attitudes to learning, to the pupils own self confidence and their relationships with others back in school after the residential.
“I feel excited, but also slightly nervous because the boys might laugh at me when I miss my family.”
It was clearly important to provide more anxious pupils with support from staff before and during the trip. It was also important to have exciting activities/visits planned to excite and enthuse the pupils about going away. Having a place to stay that was safe and familiar and a place to develop friendships with their class mates was as important as a base from which to explore the city and meet pupils from another school.
“Because of the trip, I think I know my teachers better and they know me better.”
Hosting the residential early in the academic year provides opportunities for pupils to get to know each other and, importantly, the teachers and other adults whom they will be working with over the year. The responsibilities that they take on and develop whilst they are living away, such as looking after their belongings, setting up activities to play, being on time with the right things packed, being responsible for their environment and each other, has a direct impact on the degree of responsibility that the pupils take on when they return to school. This increase in responsibility, improved social skills and higher levels of trust all lead to greater cohesion within the school.
“I’m really going to miss Birmingham and all of the places I have been to; the library, the school, Cadburys World and not forgetting all of the Twickenham kids!”
We know from pupil surveys and focus groups that they feel more relaxed with each other, they know their teachers better and there are enhanced levels of trust and confidence. These have an impact on their engagement in the classroom. Pupils report being more willing to ask questions, to ask for help, being better at working together, at problem solving and managing interpersonal relationships in the classroom.
“I really enjoyed today and it’s probably one of the best days I’ve had.”