5 reasons school staff should say ‘yes’ to taking part in a residential

It’s easy to see the benefits of residentials for your students, but what is in it for the teachers and support staff involved? You may be thinking that dealing with your students’ travel sickness, sleep walking or leaking shower gel is not the career high you are looking for, but residentials have been proven to play a transformational role for the staff involved too.  Here are five reasons to say ‘yes’ to taking part in a residential.

Number 1: Widen and develop your pedagogical skills

Residentials give you time to reflect on your practice and your teaching, to become more experimental and flexible. In the Learning Away programme, teachers were more willing and confident to take risks and try new methods. Teachers were also more trusting of their students and linked this to the improved relationships developed on residentials.

“My teaching is much more kinaesthetic, more practical, more moving around, it’s trusting the kids a little bit more. Before the residential, I was probably a little bit afraid about doing that sort of thing, whereas now I know I can handle it, its fine and I’m getting much more positive results from it.” (Staff Focus Group)


Number 2: Grow your professional development opportunities

Teaching assistants, teachers and school managers widely agree that residentials play a significant role in their professional development, in particular through the opportunities to take on additional responsibility. They also present the opportunity to develop planning and organisation, evaluation and volunteer management skills.

“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.” (Staff Focus Group)


Number 3: Boost your understanding of your students

Residentials give you space to discover things about your students you cannot see in the classroom. During the Learning Away programme, the more trusting relationships developed between staff and students on residentials meant that students often shared more about themselves, which enabled staff to better understand their behaviours. Secondary staff noted that residentials provided a context where they could learn – from each other – how to manage more challenging behaviour, and that they also continued this learning (particularly within the residential staff group) back in school.

 “Knowing students and having a history together gives you new ways to support students or challenge students in school. They can tell you anything when they’ve seen you in pyjamas!”(Staff focus group)


Number 4: Enhance your relationships with staff

The high-trust relationships built between staff on residentials have long-lasting impacts at both professional and personal levels. Residentials give staff the opportunity to work with staff from other subject areas and/or year groups as well as spend extended time with each other both during planning sessions – both within and across schools – and on residentials themselves.

“When does an art teacher get to hang out with a maths teacher? You get to know all these different members of staff on a whole different level and… build friendships. It makes you think ‘I quite like work because I quite like the people I work with,’ and that makes you happier, which makes you enjoy your job, which is fed through to the kids.” (Staff focus group)


Number 5: Boost cohesion and sense of belonging

The sense of community and the memorability of experiences on residentials helps to boost your cohesion and a sense of belonging in your school both on the residential and afterwards. On the Learning Away programme, staff and students put this down to teamwork, stronger relationships and getting to know people with whom they did not normally work.

“You feel more part of the school now you know more people.” (Staff Focus Group)

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