Teaching assistants, teachers and school managers agreed that Learning Away had played a significant role in staff professional development, in particular through:
- opportunities to develop and model particular skills, in addition to pedagogical skills, such as planning and organisation, evaluation and staff/student leader/volunteer management
- opportunities to take on additional responsibility
- identifying staff strengths and particular skills that may not have been evident within the school or classroom environment, and building on these during and after residentials.
Partnerships approached continuing professional development (CPD) in different ways. Some larger partnerships organised cross-school CPD days, where staff were introduced to new skills in workshops, which they then built on during residentials. Others used residentials themselves as CPD, with more experienced staff working with less experienced staff, or held CPD residentials on the campsite itself.
Each CPD approach, and the residentials themselves, resulted in staff talking individually about the increase in confidence that being involved in Learning Away had given them; in surveys and focus groups they talked about having pushed themselves professionally as a result of being involved in residentials, with some going on to complete further qualifications. Others talked about having been ‘converted’ to the benefits of residentials, as illustrated by this primary school teacher:
“I was the kind of person who didn’t camp, that wasn’t my kind of thing. Having been involved over the years and seen how much the teachers and staff get from it, and what an amazing opportunity it is for our kids, I think it’s been just the most amazing experience.” (Primary Staff Focus Group)
As staff became more confident around residentials and enthused staff arrived back at school full of successful examples, staff interest in taking part in Learning Away grew. Those partnerships who found it hard to recruit staff at the beginning of the project no longer struggle, and the norm is now for schools to have too many staff volunteering for residentials as the positive impacts on students, but also their colleagues, are clear.
Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.
Have a look at our theory about how change happens on brilliant residentials.
Read our recommendations for schools, providers, policy makers and researchers.
Read our independent evaluation report.