During its initial phase, Learning Away gathered evidence that showed brilliant residentials can significantly improve students’ resilience, self-confidence and sense of wellbeing.

Teachers reported changes in behaviour post-residential including more:

  • supportive behaviours
  • collaboration
  • pro-active behaviour
  • participation.

Collaborative and supportive behaviours on residentials are widely reported by both students and staff. Young people support each other to participate in challenging activities, or simply when scared of the dark or nervous about being away. Both students and teachers feel this support helps develop empathy and understanding.

As well as encouraging everyone to be supportive, challenging activities can build independence and help students to experience success. Students have talked about these successes with enthusiasm, even when they are a personal rather than a group ‘best’. Sometimes, even when they fail, they are proud of having a go.

“I feel like I can fail in front of people and just be all right about it”

These experiences are shared with the whole group, building firmer friendships and supportive relationships even when students wouldn’t describe themselves as friends.

Below, teachers leading Learning Away’s action research describe some of the impacts they have observed:

In June 2015 York Consulting published its final independent evaluation of the first phase of Learning Away residentials. The teachers’ views in the film above are backed up by this report, which shows that the majority of young people taking part in Learning Away are proud of what they achieve on their residential.

During evaluation focus group discussions, students frequently referred to improvements in their confidence as a result of attending the residential. They also said that they were less likely to give up when they find things difficult at school.

Focus group discussions with staff provided clear evidence of how students’ confidence, resilience and wellbeing improved as a result of the residential, particularly for those who were quiet at school or less academic. Residentials give these students the opportunity to ‘shine’ and show others different skills outside the formal learning environment.

“Before the residential, he was very passive and sat back relying on the teaching assistant. He’s now more likely to put his hand up, he even smiles at you now… I didn’t know he spoke so much!”

Survey results showed that these changes in attitude and behaviour, and the feelings of confidence and raised esteem, are sustained over time. For some transition-focused trips, results suggested that the changes last across school phases and into a second year. The best results were reported from classes in which the staff went away with their own students and had a reasonable amount of time with them on return. It may be that this time allows staff to observe the changes in students and relate them to the residentials, but it may also be that time back in class is an important ingredient in embedding new-found confidence in everyday life.


Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.

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. 

Read our independent evaluation report.