Independent evaluation of Learning Away

In June 2015 York Consulting published its final independent evaluation of Learning Away residentials, identifying their impacts as well as what it is about the overnight stay that brings about such positive powerful outcomes for young people long after their return to school.

On this page we provide a short summary of the evaluation aims and the evaluation methods used. For more in-depth versions of evaluation methods and findings, you can also download Learning Away’s published summary, and York Consulting’s executive summary and full report.

The evaluation aims

During the first two years of Learning Away we developed, using early findings from the schools involved, several hypotheses about the impacts we thought Learning Away might have on those involved.  In 2012, Paul Hamlyn Foundation commissioned York Consulting to evaluate the effectiveness of Learning Away. The evaluation had two overarching aims:

  • To test and evidence four key Learning Away propositions focused on the belief that high-quality residential learning: has a strong, positive impact on academic achievement and provides a wide range of student-level outcomes; can transform the learning experience of students; can help to transform schools; and does not need to be expensive.
  •  To generate new insights and understanding about how and why residential learning can and does achieve these outcomes.

Evaluation methods

The evaluation carried out by York Consulting took a mixed methods approach, which included:

1. Student, staff and parent surveys:

·       Students completed pre- and post-residential surveys, along with long-term follow-up surveys to capture their views on the impact of Learning Away.

·       Staff involved in delivering Learning Away completed pre- and post-residential surveys along with a final staff survey to capture their views on the impact of the programme. Other staff were also asked to complete surveys for individual students where Learning Away was felt to have had a significant impact.

·       Parents were asked to complete a survey after their child attended a Learning Away residential.

2. Focus groups: undertaken by PHF Learning Away advisors with students and staff post-residential.

3. Quantitative data collection: attainment, behaviour and attendance data was collected in partnerships where delivery of the programme was focused on improving outcomes in these areas.

4. Case studies: in-depth case studies were undertaken to evidence the impact of the programme.


Download Learning Away’s summary report and recommendations


Explore Getting Started and access free resources to help you plan your own brilliant residentials.

Have a look at our theory about how change happens on brilliant residentials.