If residentials are integrated with the curriculum and the wider life of the school as an entitlement for all students, they provide many more learning opportunities and have greater impact.
Residentials can be integrated with the curriculum in many ways: schools can build on and extend themes, projects and subjects introduced in school and they can develop life, work and study skills to support learning back in the classroom.
Staff involved in Learning Away link residential learning to skills development within school, such as team building and independent learning. One partnership, for example, developed a leadership model where older students ran activities on residentials as well as coaching activities back in their own school and in feeder primary schools, for which they were accredited.
The residential context allows students to experience more challenging, real-life situations that cannot be replicated within the school environment and gives them the chance to develop skills that might be difficult within the classroom context.
Residential experiences embedded within the curriculum are able to enhance leadership – and other – programmes running in school by adding a deep learning experience.
When brilliant residentials are an integral part of the school staff note that their schools shift from ‘running residentials’ to delivering a ‘Learning Away programme’, which:
- is embedded within curriculum delivery
- is seen as an entitlement rather than an ‘add-on’
- boosts students engagement, skills, knowledge and understanding
- enhances staff and student relationships in the classroom, creating a learning community.
In a number of partnerships during the first phase of Learning Away, the focus on residential learning led to a much wider focus on learning outside the classroom (LOtC). Learning Away schools came to view residential learning and LOtC as integral to the school, its ethos and curriculum delivery: outdoor learning happened on a daily basis, with teachers increasingly using school buildings and grounds to deliver a wide range of subjects and topics. This change in approach had a positive impact on students’ behaviour and engagement as they became more active learners.
In a number of primary schools, planning the curriculum around residential experiences and seeing the impact this had on learning led to a complete reorganisation of curriculum delivery within school.
Residential learning also helped staff to respond more effectively to national curriculum changes. Teachers used residential programmes to help them deliver change, finding that residential learning fitted well with the aims and objectives of new curricula. In a number of partner schools, Ofsted identified curriculum-integrated residentials and their impact on students as a key strength. For example:
“Numerous trips beyond school inspire pupils to write about their anticipation of what they will see and do and their actual experiences beyond their local environment. This was seen first-hand when Year 5 pupils were writing about and sharing their thoughts on what they might experience during their imminent residential trip to Eskdale. The work produced was of a high standard in terms of content and presentation and pupils were keen to share and help improve each other’s work.” (OfSTED report, Barrow Island Community School, May 2014)
Staff involved in Learning Away said they were increasingly using residentials to think through the skills and knowledge they wanted students to gain. Residentials then provided an environment that deepened learning and also clearly highlighted whether students had really grasped particular concepts and skills. Staff said that, as a result, the residential programmes led to better curriculum planning.
Hear from some of the teachers involved in Learning Away’s action research:
Explore curriculum integration further in our free resource written by teachers from Learning Away schools.
Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.
Have a look at our theory about how change happens through brilliant residentials.
Read our recommendations for schools, providers, policy makers and researchers.