Working with our partner schools, and drawing on York Consulting’s 2011-14 evaluation findings, Learning Away has developed a number of key recommendations for schools, providers, policymakers and researchers.
The strength of the Learning Away evaluation evidence suggests that high-quality residentials provide opportunities, impacts and benefits that are very hard to achieve in any other educational context.
Given its potential, we propose a cultural shift away from viewing high-quality residential learning as an enrichment activity to a position where it is firmly embedded as part of each young person’s entitlement.
In order to provide brilliant residentials, schools should:
- Provide a range of inclusive residential experiences that progress throughout each phase of education and are integrated with class-based and learning outside the classroom activities. The learning on residentials should be planned:
- with clear learning objectives based on students’ needs
- collaboratively by school staff, venue staff and students
- so that the experiences are embedded and reinforced once back in school.
- Work closely with residential providers during the planning process to ensure the right mix of activities and delivery – both logistically and in terms of different approaches – and feel confident to ask them for flexibility.
- Recognise and plan for the value of informal social time during residentials – the transformed relationships that happen during this time are crucial to a residential’s sustained impact.
- Plan for rigorous evaluation as an essential part of the residential programme using both quantitative and qualitative methods that enable staff to understand, develop and confirm the value of their practice.
- Develop a climate that supports healthy risk-taking around learning and teaching that will encourage helpful changes to pedagogy both on residentials and back in school.
- Develop staffing and support structures, and CPD, to assist teachers running residentials. The commitment of headteachers and senior management teams is key to effective and sustainable residential programmes, and a critical factor in successfully embedding the learning.
- Look across the wider school community for residential expertise and, when appropriate, for volunteer adults and/or student leaders.
- Work in partnerships with other schools to plan and deliver residential programmes, provide support and training, develop creative solutions, share equipment and resources, combine purchasing power and share findings and practice.
- Develop inclusive residential programmes by investigating lower-cost residentials and using Pupil Premium to support students who would not otherwise be able to attend.
- Seek opportunities to use residentials to support students through key transition points.
In order to promote and support brilliant residentials, providers should:
- Draw on the findings from Learning Away to inform their residential offer and approach to working with schools.
- Publicise the benefits of residential experiences for young people of all ages, and the range of opportunities they offer, to a wide audience using local and national networks.
- Direct schools and policy makers to the Learning Away research evidence and website.
- Publicise the unique nature of the overnight stay and the opportunities this offers for learning, teaching and relationship-building.
- Promote and support the development of curriculum-integrated, inclusive and progressive residential programmes, encouraging schools to recognise that residentials should be an entitlement rather than an enrichment activity.
- Work collaboratively with teachers and students to both plan and deliver high-quality residential learning programmes, ensuring they are tailored to the needs of students and schools.
- Support schools to include and make good use of informal social time as part of their programme by being clear about its benefits to relationship building.
- Evaluate the impact of their residential programmes rigorously, working in partnership with schools to do so and sharing evidence with them.
- Support lower-cost residential models by, for example, offering:
- camping opportunities (sites, equipment, support)
- shorter residentials
- more opportunities for teacher-led activities.
- Draw schools’ attention to the use of Pupil Premium and other funding opportunities for residentials, and help schools evaluate the impact of this funding.
In order to facilitate and support the development of brilliant residentials, we encourage policy makers to:
- Recognise and promote the ways in which residential learning can impact on curriculum reviews, and their design and delivery in schools, across the UK.
- Promote the clear links between the impact of residentials on resilience, confidence, and ‘grit’, and the current focus on character education in schools.
- Recognise the opportunities that residential experiences provide to support the current focus on promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing.
- Promote the impact of residentials on families as demonstrated by Learning Away, linking these to the family support agenda.
- Publicise the findings of the Learning Away programme to the informal education sector; the findings of Learning Away have implications for children and young people beyond their lives in school.
Areas that would benefit from further research
We are aware that the action research carried out under Learning Away was a starting point in terms of understanding high-quality residential learning. For example, the quantitative data that schools were able to provide was more limited than the qualitative data, and inevitably the scope and time limit of the initiative meant that some research questions were raised but not answered.
In order to further understand brilliant residentials and their impact, we have identified the following areas that would benefit from further research:
- The impact of brilliant residentials on attainment.
- The longer-term impacts of brilliant residentials.
- The impact of brilliant residentials on students’ emotional health and wellbeing.
- Effective strategies for reinforcing and embedding learning.
- The benefits of residential experiences in the non-formal youth sector.
Be inspired by our case studies from Learning Away schools.
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.