Making the business case

If residential experiences provide extremely powerful learning opportunities for young people of all ages and abilities, and have significant impacts on students, teachers and schools as a whole, it could be argued that the costs for these experiences should be found from school budgets.

However, Ofsted’s 2008 report about Learning Outside the Classroom makes clear that the vast majority of the schools visited were unable to assess the effectiveness or value for money of these activities. With so many draws on school budgets, these are key barriers to being able to justify expenditure on residential learning.

Teachers and local authority, voluntary sector and commercial providers who wish to provide these opportunities for children and young people need to be able to make a business case for residential experiences. To do this, schools and providers need to be clear and specific about the learning and personal development objectives of each residential, and have evaluation plans in place to see whether these objectives have been met – and at what cost. By measuring their residentials’ effectiveness, and by comparing effectiveness and costs against other interventions, schools and providers can begin to understand whether their residential represents good value for money.

Learn more about the wider importance of strong monitoring and evaluation practices to brilliant residentials. It can be helpful to look at value for money exercises run by other organisations whose intervention is comparable.

  • We have developed a series of cost model case studies that outline the different residentials used by the Learning Away partnership schools, and their costs.
  • One residential provider, the Scottish Outdoor Education Centres (SOEC), has commissioned a Social Return On Investment (SROI) analysis of its work with young people. This analysis, carried out by independent consultants Forth Development, showed a SROI ratio of 1:11, in which every £1 spent or invested in the organisation results in £11 of educational, environmental and social benefits. Find out more about this study here and here.
  • The Education Endowment Foundation focuses particularly on testing and evaluating interventions to improve the attainment of disadvantaged students. Its growing toolkit ranks a number of teaching and learning strategies against cost and impact on attainment. Some of these strategies are commonly used on residentials. Learn more.


Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.

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.