Learning Away’s findings suggest that high-quality residential learning has a positive impact on children and young people’s achievement at school.

Several of our school partnerships during the initial phase of the project – both primary and secondary –  focused on collecting data to study impact on achievement and establish which key features of a high-quality residential learning experience can particularly support improved academic outcomes.

The evidence showed that these schools’ residentials did have a positive impact on students’ academic outcomes; this seems to be because the teaching and learning approaches used on residentials are different to those experienced by students at school. For example, whilst on Learning Away residentials, staff are more likely to:

  • Contextualise learning – students are involved in practical, context-based learning activities.
  • Personalise learning – learning is tailored to students’ needs either through differentiation or through individualised formative feedback.
  • Develop positive relationships – more informal, equal relationships between staff and students that promote students’ ownership of and engagement with their learning.
  • Promote collaborative learning – residentials can support an emphasis on collaborative learning, problem-solving and decision-making.

You can read more about the evidence of brilliant residentials on achievement here in the final report for the initial phase of Learning Away.

Can brilliant residentials boost GCSE attainment?

Recognising the importance of GCSEs to students’ future education and employment opportunities and schools’ performance scores, many schools develop support packages and specific interventions to boost GCSE attainment. Some common approaches to improving the exam results of C/D borderline students include tuition and mentoring, often long term and on a one-to-one basis.

It was an aim of  the initial Learning Away  action research to explore whether residentials provided a powerful alternative to these more traditional and often more costly approaches. Visit the school partnership pages of The Radcliffe School and The Canterbury Academy  to learn more about two different, targeted approaches, or explore our case studies from Learning Away schools.

‘77% of secondary students surveyed reported that ‘the way I was taught on the residential will help me do better in this subject’

York Consulting, Learning Away: Final Report, June 2015


Explore Getting Started and access free resources to help you plan your own brilliant residentials.

Have a look at our theory about how change happens on brilliant residentials.

Read our recommendations for schools, providers, policy makers and researchers.