3: Getting started

Many of the Learning Away partnership schools integrated the learners’ existing curriculum into the trip, thus enriching the learning and justifying the time, effort and cost of going away.

  • Work with your partner primary and secondary schools. Many schools use residentials to support transition; consider whether summer term residentials could help introduce young people to their next year’s learning, including ‘guest appearances’ from next year’s teachers.
  • Plan for progression. What skills or knowledge could young people acquire at the residential that will support learning beyond this term, this year or even this school? They should be able to build on these skills at each subsequent residential – and be able to see and evaluate their own progress.
  • Make use of experts / volunteers. Get to know the wider school community – parents and carers in particular can offer so much more than just fundraising efforts or cheap transport. Enrich young people’s learning experiences by bringing in expert to share their knowledge and enthusiasm and help put the learning into ‘real world’ contexts.
  • Choose a theme. Theming a residential isn’t essential but it can help create a cohesive ‘story’ from which to attach learning concepts or tasks.
  • Map the programme. Work together to create a visual representation of the residential’s activities and tasks, showing how they connect to support learning.  A curriculum map for residentials can help young people (and staff) see the ‘bigger picture’ and appreciate that the residential truly is part of their ongoing learning.
  • Be flexible. This is particularly important if your venue is also a public place.  However carefully your integrated curriculum has been planned, it may be necessary to adapt to changed circumstances (inlcuding the weather!) or timings.
  • Plan and allow for ‘down time’.  Be sure to plan time for young people to enjoy socialising with one another or taking time out to rest and reflect.

The Learning Away partnership schools developed an editable template to assist in planning the ‘bigger picture’ for brilliant residentials.  Click here to download a copy in Word format.

CONTEXT

The Canterbury Academy’s five-day residential at Hampton Court Palace was attended by 80 Key Stage 4 students, including many eligible for free school meals (FSM).  The intention was to engage young people in a broad range of curriculum subjects within a theme and to participate in residential activities that would help build their confidence.

The curriculum element focused on maths and English attainment, with students choosing an additional subject option from a range that included science, PE, DT, drama, French and history.  There was also a compulsory health awareness lesson.

BUILDING AROUND A THEME

School staff agreed that an overarching theme would motivate young people to engage with curriculum subjects and use the Palace itself as inspiration and a resource within all lessons; this history of the building and its fascinating occupants was an obvious starting point for shared thinking about an integrated curriculum experience.

The process began with curriculum staff meeting at Hampton Court Palace five months before the residential.  Staff undertook a tour of the Palace alongside the Palace’s own education team, learning about the history of the site and discussing how it could inspire lesson planning.

Hampton Court Palace staff encouraged the Canterbury Academy team to plan lessons within the Palace and grounds; the story of Henry VIII was agreed as a model through which to deliver the GCSE content of each lesson.  Staff found themselves inspired to create new ways of delivering GCSE content, which would exploit the potential of the Palace and its historical intrigues, its architectural majesty and landscape.

On the final evening, the theme was enriched and brought to life with a medieval inspired wedding banquet at which everyone ate barbecued meats and other authentic dishes, served on long tables inside the Palace.   Students presented some of their Henry VIII inspired work, ranging from dramatisations of Anne Boleyn’s last moments created in a drama lesson, to letters of treason written within the Great Hall of the Palace, completed in English lessons.

View The Canterbury Academy’s integrated curriculum plan for the wedding banquet here.

THE STUDENT VIEW

Exploring the fascinating life and times of Henry VIII in the most important and atmospheric Palace of his reign truly motivated students to engage fully in their lessons.  In their post residential evaluations, two Year 10 students said,

  • “I mess about in lessons, but that’s because I’ve got nothing that helps me concentrate. You see everything the same each day in school; there’s no inspiration there.  When I was at Hampton Court there was just loads of stuff to inspire me.  I probably did more hours of work in that one week than I did in the whole of this term; I just had so much inspiration from it.”
  • “If you went home [from the venue each evening] you would forget a lot more. When you can’t really get out of the Palace and you’re always part of it – even while you’re sleeping there you’re still in the grounds of somewhere that Henry VIII used to live in and own – you can’t really escape looking at it.”

Click to read a more detailed case study on Canterbury Academy’s GCSE residential at Hampton Court Palace.

Explore some of the integrated curriculum lesson plans for Canterbury Academy’s Year 10 groups at Hampton Court Palace:

One lesson from a four-lesson Science programme, focusing on why Henry VIII was obese.  This resource is in PowerPoint format and, if you download it, includes a five minute video about the impact of Henry VIII’s diet on his health.

Schools in the Birmingham East EAZ (now known as the Pilot Partnership) create multi-layered curriculum maps to shape their residentials.  This process begins with the EAZ’s shared values:

The Learning Away residential should enable all young people to become:

  • SUCCESSFUL LEARNERS – who enjoy learning, make progress and achieve
  • CONFIDENT INDIVIDUALS – who are able to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives
  • RESPONSIBLE CITIZENS – who make a positive contribution to society.

Each of the values has a number of clarifying statements underpinning it.  For each participating year group, specific statements relating the group’s objectives were also highlighted – for example, among other objectives, a Year 1 and 2 group’s residential learning was intended to support ‘successful learners’ who:

  • have the essential learning skills of literacy, numeracy and information communication technology
  • are able to learn independently and with others
  • enjoy learning and are motivated to achieve the best they can now and in the future.

From this purposeful beginning, the themes evolve around the curriculum plans in place for the period during which the residential takes place. At curriculum planning workshops, a curriculum map is drawn onto a large sheet of paper, with the residential’s theme or topic in the centre and blank boxes for each relevant curriculum area placed around the page.  Working alongside colleagues, the residential planning team examines medium term curriculum plans, researches activity ideas and checks that the ideas will support young people’s on-going learning.  The key skills and knowledge young people should acquire during the residential are agreed and learning activities are then linked to these.

For a cohort of Year 5 and 6s, the residential’s theme was ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ and the task was to develop, write, film and edit a movie.  Dozens of curriculum-linked skills were identified as vital to the successful completion of the task – for example:

  • Mathematical understanding: calculate the cost of the residential
  • Scientific and technological understanding: investigate lighting and shadows affecting filming
  • Historical, geographical and social understanding: locating the site on a map, planning routes, identifying key landmarks in close proximity.

The Pilot Partnership’s overarching curriculum objectives are the same for every year group; individual objectives are then highlighted relevant to each year group and its theme, and these underpin the detailed curriculum maps and lesson planning for that cohort of pupils.  View a copy of the curriculum aims for Year 5 and 6’s ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ programme, here.

View the completed curriculum map for this Year 5 and 6 group, here. A blank, editable version of the curriculum map can be downloaded from the Resource Library.

Other sample curriculum plans and maps can be found in the Resource Library.