All East Ayrshire pupils entitled to a life changing Brilliant Residential

East Ayrshire Council has announced that all pupils from all backgrounds across their 54 schools will be entitled to a high-quality residential learning experience during their time at school. The announcement comes shortly after the launch of a new #BrilliantResidentials campaign in Scotland, which disseminates the overwhelming evidence gathered from the Learning Away programme about the numerous positive impacts a residential experience can have on pupils, staff and the wider school community. East Ayrshire is the first council in Scotland to make this commitment.

Through its action research, spanning five years, and involving 60 schools across the UK, the Learning Away programme developed 10 guiding principles which can transform residentials into highly effective, brilliant residentials. These principles include: residentials being led by teachers; co-designed with students; fully integrated into the curriculum; and affordable for all. If delivered in this way, residentials can have a huge impact on schools, teachers and on children and young people of all ages, improving their: resilience; achievement; relationships; and engagement with learning.

Alan Ward, Head of Education at East Ayrshire Council said that residential experiences were an integral part of enabling their pupils to learn in real life settings and developing deeper relationships, contributing to improved engagement with learning.

“When you break down the barriers of the school timetable and the school walls and take learning on an overnight visit somewhere new, you see children flourish in different ways. Their confidence increases, they push themselves in new ways and they take that positive attitude back to the classroom with a new sense of belonging with their teachers and classmates. We know that residentials are much more than an enrichment activity, which is why we are committed to ensuring that every pupil in East Ayrshire is entitled to a high-quality, low-cost, brilliant residential experience.”

The announcement was made on 10 May at the annual ‘O Factor’ exhibition, an event which celebrates Outdoor Learning in East Ayrshire, held at St Joseph’s Campus, Kilmarnock.

The celebrations included the award of the most Brilliant Residential, which went to Park School in Kilmarnock. Park School caters for more than 100 students aged from five to 18 who have a range of learning and physical disabilities. Their Brilliant Residential was an adventurous six night sailing trip around the Isles of Bute, Arran and Cumbrae. The residential was made affordable through fundraising and was inclusive for all. The students slept aboard their boats in challenging conditions as part of their Duke of Edinburgh practice which also integrated the school curriculum and ethos. The six night educational experience on boats was planned by teachers and students so that the learning was embedded and reinforced back in school.

The award to Park School included 50% towards the cost of a residential trip with SYHA Hostelling Scotland which is part of the SYHA Youth Active Grant fund.  SYHA Youth Active grants support disadvantaged young people to take part in school and youth group residential trips and aim to ensure trips are affordable and accessible for all young people.

East Ayrshire Council’s, Learning Outdoor Support Team (LOST) have been instrumental in driving forward outdoor learning and residential experiences for pupils across East Ayrshire. They will continue to support the schools of East Ayrshire to ensure residentials are an entitlement for all.

Kim Somerville who coordinates the #BrilliantResidentials campaign said the announcement was a huge step forward in meeting the vision of the many organisations behind the Learning Away Consortium (including Education Scotland).

“We want more children and young people of all ages and from all backgrounds to benefit from the life changing experience a school visit with an overnight stay can bring.  We highly applaud the promise made by East Ayrshire Council to make residentials an entitlement for all their pupils and we urge other local authorities and academy chains to make the same commitment.”

The Learning Away website hosts over 100 good practice case studies, alongside material to help ‘make the case’ for residential experiences to school leaders, governors, parents and education policy makers. This includes a series of practical free resources developed with partner schools from the Learning Away programme for teachers and visit leaders, including planning information, activity ideas, downloadable templates, presentations and films. Talks and workshops are also running across the UK.


Join the #BrilliantResidentials campaign


You can make your pledge to work with others to provide more and higher quality residentials here.


Share your stories and photographs of high-quality residentials on facebook and on twitter, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #BrilliantResidentials

Campaign Pack

Wherever you are, you can use the tools in the campaign pack which can be downloaded here to put Brilliant Residentials on the map.