Staff providing residential experiences have a duty of care towards the young people involved, but this must not mean wrapping them all in cotton wool by removing all risks. We have a responsibility not only to keep young people safe, but also to enable them to learn to manage risks for themselves and to benefit from taking part in a full range of residential activities.

Risk/benefit management is a fundamental part of life and is a crucial skill for young people to learn as they move into adolescence and adulthood. Well-planned residentials can provide young people with a degree of freedom that provides an ideal opportunity for them to learn about and manage risk for themselves, taking responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing on the residential then transferring these skills back into their day-to-day lives.

Hear more about the benefits of residentials for children and young people from school staff involved in Learning Away’s action research.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has made it clear it understands that learning outside the classroom helps to bring the curriculum to life, provides deeper subject learning and increases self-confidence – as well as helping students to develop risk awareness for their future lives.

To support and encourage schools, the HSE has published a myth-busting statement explaining what teachers should consider when organising learning outside the classroom experiences.

The statement dispels myths about legal action and encourages all schools to ditch unnecessary paperwork, ensuring that precautions are proportionate to the risks involved. It contains four key messages:

  1. Well-managed school trips and outdoor activities are great for children. Children won’t learn about risk if they’re wrapped in cotton wool.
  2. Teachers should expect their schools to have procedures that encourage participation, are proportionate to the level of risk and avoid bureaucracy.
  3. Staff running school trips need to focus on the risks and the benefits to young people – not the paperwork.
  4. Accidents and mistakes may happen on school trips – but fear of prosecution has been blown out of all proportion.

A PDF of the full statement can be downloaded here.

Find out where you can get support managing risk when planning your own brilliant residentials.


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.