Most Learning Away residentials fill up quickly, but in some cases it takes more than an initial permission letter home to persuade parents and carers about the value and benefits of residential experiences.
Many Learning Away schools hold parent/carer evenings, where staff talk about the residential and show films or photos of past residentials to bring them to life. Where more risky activities are proposed these are explained in detail, along with mitigating factors. Some schools also develop booklets about their residentials that are given to parents/carers as a way of explaining the residential and its benefits.
School staff also find that following up parent/carer evenings with individual, informal discussions is absolutely key in building trust and therefore gaining permission for children to attend a residential. Primary staff use the playground at arrival and home times effectively to build these relationships, while secondary and special school staff phone parents/carers as needed and also make home visits.
In the vast majority of cases, these approaches (and, in some cases, gentle but committed persistence) pay off and almost all students that staff want to take away on residentials do attend. In cases where parents/carers are still very reluctant to let their children stay away from home and residentials are local enough, arrangements are made for them to attend for extended days so they experience as much of the residential as possible.
In this short filmed interview, a parent talks about the sort of information she feels parents and carers need to be told by the school about their child’s residential as it is being planned and the reassurance that then provides.
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