Use of volunteers

Learning Away schools have found that it often makes sense to make use of adult volunteers on residentials – it isn’t always possible, affordable or even desirable to staff a residential with only teaching or support staff.

Working with volunteers can contribute to the quality and lower the cost of a residential and provide additional expertise. Parents/carers, governors, community members and student teachers can be approached to volunteer, and, if necessary, be supported with some training before the residential.

On a camping residential the higher staff:student ratio needed can put a significant demand on staffing, and Learning Away schools have often used volunteers to boost staff numbers. The input these volunteers provide is not just a matter of ‘making up the numbers’. They can contribute a wealth of skills, experience and energy, which has benefits for both the young people and school staff.

For example, every year, Hanover Primary School takes its Year 6 students away for a week on a ‘back to basics’ residential camping experience on the edge of Epping Forest, where the focus is on living and working together as a community. Volunteers are central to the model, and are sourced through a number of long-term partnerships with external organisations. Learn more about Hanover’s approach to using volunteers here.

Schools find, when they start asking around, that there is a wealth of expertise and volunteering that they can tap into within their communities. With a little bit of creative thinking, careful planning and the creation of working relationships with outside organisations, it is certainly possible to identify other adults who can enable residentials to happen and help ensure that more residentials are financially sustainable.

“The Bulwell Learning Away programme is widely recognised in the area as many governors also act as volunteers on camps, also reducing the need for additional staffing.”

Learning Away Coordinator, Bulwell EAZ Partnership


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.