‘Work on the Wild Side’ report demonstrates leading schools place high value on residential experiences

A new report released today by social change consultancy notdeadfish contributes to ongoing debate on best approaches to ensuring all children and young people have access to high quality outdoor learning and residential experiences.

The ‘Work on the Wild Side’ report produced in partnership with Learning Away Consortium members, EOC, CLOtC, IOL and AHOEC analyses the UK primary and secondary schools with the highest Progress 8 scores and winners of the Pupil Premium Awards.  It summarises what they said about residentials and outdoor learning in their external prospectuses and websites, and what inspectors said about the same topic in their most recent Ofsted reports.

Authors Tash Nitman and Anita Kerwin-Nye explain that the report:

“(…) does not rehearse in depth the considerable evidence on the impact or importance of outdoor learning and, as Learning Away put it, Brilliant Residentials. Rather it aims to demonstrate that those schools, which by any measure are leaders in the system, place a high value on learning beyond the classroom. It is a paper to contribute to ongoing debate on best approaches to ensuring all children and young people have high quality outdoor learning and residential experiences.”

Our hope is that the publication will help to equip other schools with the confidence to spend valuable time and resource on residential experiences and – alongside groups such as those partnered in this publication – we will contribute to creating a community of practice between schools to help share what works well in learning outside the classroom.

The report recommends that given the clear benefits of outdoor learning, more needs to be done to ensure that children and young people are provided with the opportunity to leave the classroom. To improve access for every child to an experience outside the publication recommends that:

  • Senior Leader Teams are exposed to the benefits of outdoor learning. Research suggests that when SLT members support learning outside of the classroom, a shift occurs across the rest of the school with teachers becoming more confident in holding lessons outside. This could usefully be included in programmes for aspirant senior leaders.
  • There is careful monitoring of the impact of budget cuts and changes in accountability frameworks on both how many children and young people are accessing outdoor learning and residentials, and also on which children and young people are missing out.
  • Alter the language used to describe outdoor and residential learning so that outdoor learning is not seen as an enrichment activity, but rather an integrated part of the curriculum.
  • Develop low cost or resource-light provision that makes best use of partnerships between schools, and between schools and external providers.


The report forms part of notdeadfish’s pro-bono work on sharing partnerships and learning across and between the charity and schools sectors and we are extremely grateful for their time, expertise and commitment to the this cause.


Download the ‘Work on the Wild Side’ report here.