Planning: where to start

Brilliant residentials can provide extremely powerful learning opportunities for young people of all ages and abilities, as well as having an impact on teachers and schools as a whole. To make the most of this potential, residentials must be carefully planned as learning experiences.

A brilliant residential is a high-quality trip, led by teachers and integrated into the curriculum – learn more about Learning Away’s what makes a brilliant residential.

When designing their brilliant residentials, Learning Away schools use an approach called theory of change. They start with the aims and outcomes they want to see in their particular students or school, and then plan backwards. Rather than starting with ‘a trip to…’, they start with their aims then choose a setting and activities that give the best chance of achieving them. Read more about how Learning Away partnership schools used a theory of change approach in the Planning tools resource.

As a result of the schools’ work around planning, Learning Away has developed a diagram, setting out our theory about the changes that happen to learning through brilliant residential experiences.

More information about theory of change can be found on the following websites:

  • Charities Evaluation Services: Making Connections: Using a Theory of Change to Develop Planning and Evaluation– an introduction to the model, and practical support for developing a theory of change for your own programme.
  • The Institute for Research and Reform in Education: You Can Get There From Here– an article discussing how a Theory of Change approach to planning can and has been used to support educational interventions in US districts.
  • The Center for Theory of Change is a non-profit organisation established to promote quality standards and best practice for the development and implementation of Theory of Change, with a particular focus on its use and application in the areas of international development, sustainability, education, human rights and social change.


Find more online resources in our help on the web section.

Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.

Access free resources to help you plan your own brilliant residentials.

Read our recommendations for schools, providers, policy makers and researchers. 

Read our independent evaluation report.