The benefits of a lower-cost model are extensive and not simply related to lower costs for families and schools. The Learning Away partnership schools that developed lower-cost models reported a range of benefits – many of which were sustained long after each residential ended.
Benefits for children ^
- More frequent and more sustainable residential experiences can be provided.
- Greater numbers of children can experience each residential.
- Since lower-cost models tend to occur fairly locally to school, they can be less daunting for younger children.
- Children with additional needs – medical or behavioural, perhaps – who might not be able to access a residential far from home are able to attend the whole event or part of it.
- Schools have greater control over the logistics of the residential; children can therefore play a key role in the planning of activities in advance as well as during the event.
- There is more freedom to adapt the programme to better meet the needs of individuals –external factors (e.g. other school visits to the site) are unlikely to affect the programme and there are fewer time restrictions. This enables activities and tasks to be modified to suit the needs of the children on the day.
In this short film, Siobhan Tolson and Nikki Taylor, members of staff at Snakewood Primary School (part of the Bulwell EAZ Learning Away partnership) and the parent of a child at the school talk about the benefits for children of their low-cost camping model.
Benefits for staff ^
- An excellent professional development opportunity to develop new skills and lead activities.
- Staff feel more ownership of the residential and activities.
- The residentials tend to be more local; therefore staff can often contribute to part of the residential if they are not able to attend the whole residential.
- Residentials develop new, or build deeper, relationships between young people and other adults from the school as they lead and support activities.
- There is more flexibility with time, allowing staff to be freer to interact informally with the young people.
In this film, Linda Abbott, the Bulwell EAZ Learning Away coordinator, Siobhan and Nikki also describe the benefits for staff.
Benefits for parents, carers and the wider community ^
- There is a reduced requirement for financial contributions from families, which can often be a barrier to children being able to attend residentials.
- Parents and carers can participate in the planning of the residential and see first hand how it meets the needs and interests of their child.
- Using the local area encourages the children to return to residential venues – with their families – which can support the sustainability of local amenities.
- Using community-based sites such as the local secondary school can be positive PR for both schools and play an invaluable role in assisting smooth transition.
- More links are made with local volunteers and community groups, meaning schools engage more with their community.
- Local volunteers are more likely to become regular volunteers in school – or even find employment at the school.
Linda, Siobhan and Nikki recognise that their local, low-cost camping residentials also have benefits for parents, carers and the wider community, which they share their thoughts on in this film.