Fitting an integrated residential into a school timetable can be a challenge because of the need to release staff and to provide a timetable for any students who do not attend.

Certain times of year are extremely busy for schools, making releasing staff even more of a challenge. Many Learning Away schools have held successful off-season residentials, fitting their trips to the students’ and school’s needs rather than the weather, and holding them at times when staffing does not pose so much of a challenge.

Other solutions to overcome the timetabling challenge include:

  • Allowing some students to attend the residential during the day and into the evening without staying overnight. This can increase attendance and reduce staffing pressures, but must be carefully planned to ensure students and staff still make the most of the ‘extended day’ benefits of the residential experience.
  • Judicious use of weekends to enhance the time away.

Some schools acknowledge the demands placed on staff when they supervise overnight. Ideas for reducing this strain include planning overnight stays on a rota basis, and giving staff time off in lieu to recover from the night before.

There will be some students who, for whatever reason, are unable to take part in the residential. Tested strategies for providing an engaging curriculum back in school and managing staff absences include:

  • collapsing the timetable for the year group or the whole school
  • combining classes
  • project-based teaching for students and classes not away on the residential.

These strategies make it easier for schools to manage with reduced staffing and also have the potential to offer an exciting alternative for those students not able to attend the residential.


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.