Curriculum integration

When residentials are integrated with the curriculum they have greater impact and provide many more learning opportunities. Wider research also suggests that the more young people are involved as active participants in their own learning, the better they do.

Residentials can be integrated with the curriculum in many ways. Schools can design residentials to build on and extend themes, projects and subjects initially introduced in school. They can develop life, work and study skills for use back in the classroom.

Brilliant residentials can also contribute to wider school learning objectives including: better relationships; improved attendance and behaviour; increased sense of belonging; enhanced learner engagement; and raised attainment, achievement and aspirations. They can also support schools to develop students’ leadership roles in school.

This page summarises some of the ways in which Learning Away partnerships integrated their residentials with the curriculum.  For a more in-depth look at this area you can explore our Curriculum integration resource, which includes a wealth of information about the benefits of integrating residentials with the curriculum, ideas about how to do this and downloadable resources from the Learning Away partnerships.

Developing knowledge and skills

The Christ Church partnership of three Merseyside primary schools provides a progressive programme of residential experience as an integral part of their creative curriculum for all  children from Years 2 to 6. Children co-construct the curriculum themes, of which the residential is just one part. Residentials are not presented to parents or children as extras or ‘holidays’, but rather as an integral part of the term’s work.

Children and parents are involved at the planning stage for residentials and are asked to share their ideas for activities. This puts student voice at the core of all residentials, as well as helping to allay parental anxieties. Following these consultations, and prior to the residential visit, school and centre staff take part in dedicated planning days at the partner outdoor centre (Crosby Hall Educational Trust). In 2009, this model of designing bespoke residentials was new not only to the three schools but also to the centre, which had previously tended to offer schools a ‘menu’ of activities.

The Pilot Partnership has worked with eight Birmingham schools to create a shared curriculum, in which residentials are ‘a natural and integrated learning tool’ for all children.  Residentials are based on curriculum themes Respect for the World, Citizenship and Other Cultures, and The Arts.

Three of our Learning Away secondary schools have developed residential programmes targeted specifically at raising attainment in core and other subjects in Years 9 – 12 where subject-specific lessons are directly linked to different residential activities and opportunities, or follow a ‘theme’ or particular task throughout the residential as a whole. Learn more about the Calderglen, Radcliffe, and Canterbury school partnerships.

Driving curriculum change in school

Brilliant residentials can also be part of a wider agenda for change within a school. The Learning Away partnership schools are demonstrating that high-quality residential programmes can spearhead changes in curriculum design and organisation, and in the introduction of new pedagogical approaches. Fore example, several Learning Away schools have switched to a thematic curriculum. Staff develop skills to support these ways of working on residentials, and are then confident about introducing new approaches more widely back at school.

Staff from the Thomas Tallis partnership are trained in a democratic community model, which is used across their residentials. Back in school, this model is forming a core part of the school’s approach to students’ learning conversations – and is also now the model through which the school council operates.

At Calderglen High School a growing number of subjects are are holding subject specific residentials with a vertical age slice, building on the drama, music and PE departments’ successes. Meanwhile the school is experimenting with collapsing the timetable to adopt a thematic approach for part of a term, again building on approaches trialled as part of the school’s residential programme. Again, now that enough staff have been away they have the skills and confidence to work in this way, and – as the skills learned lower down the school progress upwards with students who have experienced Learning Away residentials – more staff are using active and collaborative teaching methods in support of subject and cross-curricular themes.


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.