Learning on a residential

Over the course of Learning Away, our partner schools have become more confident about leading their own learning on residentials.  Whilst they still buy in experts when they need them, many teachers – and students – now plan and lead the majority, or all, of the activities on their residentials.  You can read more about their experiences here.

There is a wide variety of information and advice available on the web that will help you think about and plan residential learning for your students.  Here are some links to a selection of organisations, separated into five areas:

  • adventure learning
  • curriculum focus
  • personal development
  • holistic education
  • awards for residential experiences.

We would be very happy to hear from you with details of any other sites you find helpful so that we can add to the selection.  Contact us here.

Adventure Learning

Since 2009 and the creation of the Cumbrian-based Adventure Learning Schools (ALS) charity, a model has been developed that integrates Adventure into primary and secondary school curricula.  The approach aims to provide “a rich learning culture in which students not only meet and surpass high academic standards (especially in Literacy and Numeracy), but through the emphasis on adventure, increase their competence as learners, develop their personality and create increasingly effective learning environments for themselves as they move towards becoming citizens of our global world.”  Read more about ALS here.

Curriculum Focus

Our partner schools have found that providing students with a residential experience that focuses on a particular area, or areas, of the curriculum has a positive impact on their engagement and attainment (you can read more about this here, and look at a case study here).  The links below are starting points for thinking about integrating a curriculum focus into your residential.

  • Council for Subject Associations Details of most subject associations and links to their websites.
  • The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) is the national voice for learning outside the classroom, promoting the benefits of LOtC, working to influence policy and practice, and providing support for education practitioners, headteachers, governors and organisations that provide LOtC experiences.
  • Field Studies Council (FSC) is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural environment. It publishes extensive resources and runs day and residential fieldwork activities and courses for teachers, young people and families at 17 field studies centres across the UK.
  • National Association of Field Studies Officers (NAFSO) is a special interest group attached to the Institute for Outdoor Learning (see below).  It is a UK-wide membership organisation representing professionals employed in teaching, developing and promoting field studies.
  • The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and enhancing the good practice of those who work in the outdoors.  Their website provides teachers of all subjects and all ages with guidance on health and safety, curriculum links and opportunities for professional development.
  • The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) supports all staff in schools taking young people outdoors to engage and enhance learning. They have produced a set of Outdoor Learning Cards with many activities that can be used on residentials and do not require expert input.  Find out more about the cards and training here.
  • The Wild Network  is a growing movement focussed on re-wilding childhood, with the aim helping children to roam free, play wild and leader nature-rich lives. The Campaigns page of their website contains ideas for  learning activities and experiences that can be easily adapted and run by anyone working with children and young people.

Personal Development

It will probably come as no surprise that Learning Away residentials have had a big impact on students’ personal development, particularly on: relationships; leadership; and resilience, confidence and wellbeing.  You can see more information about our findings here.  The sites below provide information, links to research and details of school-based work that help to make sense of the impact that residential learning has in this area.


  • The Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is an American organisation dedicated to making evidence-based social and emotional learning an integrated part of education from pre-school to high school.  It has a comprehensive overview of what works in terms of effective social and emotional learning in schools and many links to current research.
  • The Education Endowment Fund toolkit has a section that provides a useful summary about social and emotional learning in schools.
  • The PSHE Association is the subject association for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.  Its aim is to  raise the status, quality and impact of PSHE education and enable high quality PSHE education teaching and learning for all children and young people.  It provides information, advice and free resources to members.
  • Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) was a UK government-funded National Strategy that encouraged a whole-school approach to help create a climate and conditions that encourage students to develop their social and emotional skills.  A comprehensive suite of materials was produced for both primary and secondary schools, which can be found through the SEAL archive.


  • University of the First Age (UFA) is an educational charity that trains young people to become role models and develop and lead learning opportunities for others in their communities.
  • Sports Leaders UK is a charity that acts as an Awarding Organisation providing nationally recognised qualifications that equip people with the skills and motivation to create and run sporting activities.

Resilience, confidence and well being

  • The Resilience Research Centre is a Canadian organisation based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  It specialises in researching, through a variety of projects, factors that affect resilience in young people both positively and negatively through quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Action for Happiness is a UK-based organisation dedicated to building a happier society by bringing together like-minded people from all walks of life, drawing on the latest scientific research and backed by leading experts from the fields of psychology, education, economics, social innovation and beyond.
  • The Mindfulness in Schools Project is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to encourage, support and research the teaching of secular mindfulness in schools.  Research into mindfulness suggests it has a positive impact on stress, well being and symptoms of depression.
  • Young Minds is a UK charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. The charity campaigns, researches and influences policy and practice as well as providing expert knowledge to professionals, parents and young people through its Parents’ Helpline, online resources, training and development, outreach work and publications.
  • The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition represents fourteen charities dedicated to children and young people’s wellbeing.  It focuses on England and its aims are to improve information about children and young people’s mental health, encourage early intervention, mental health services and produce guidance for professionals.

Holistic education

There are a number of organisations interested in developing learning that focuses on the person as a whole and look at learning through a wide lens.  Residentials fit in well with their shared ethos, so we have picked out several to start your thinking.

  • Whole Education is a partnership of like-minded schools, organisations and individuals that believe that all young people should have a fully rounded education, developing the knowledge, skills and qualities needed to help them thrive in life and work.
  • Expansive Education is an organisation that promotes an approach to teaching and learning that develops life-long learners.  It holds action research by teachers as CPD as central to the approach, in order for them to develop positive attributes in learners, preparing individuals to meet the challenges of life and work.
  • The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) Education programme of policy research and practical interventions seeks to find innovative solutions to entrenched educational problems.  One of its recent pieces of research, Schools with Soul, explores a new approach to Spiritual, Social, Moral and Cultural Education in schools.
  • The European Democratic Education Community is a non-profit organisation that promotes democratic education as a sensible educational model for all democratic states. Its members are individuals, schools and institutions throughout Europe with decades of experience in democratic education.  Its work is based on two pillars of democratic learning: self-determined learning; and a learning community based on equality and mutual respect.

Awards for residential experiences

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award: Information on the award scheme for participants, leaders and parents.
  • The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.


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.