5: Top tips

The Learning Away team at Hanover Primary created a Top Tips document to help planners of future residential experiences avoid and learn from the pitfalls they encountered.

  • Invest in people. Establishing relationships with landowners, local business people, charities with interests which coincide with your residentials, and academics/experts can really pay off. People invest in people, not projects, so spend time explaining your needs and requirements and others are far more likely to help you financially and in other ways. Ensure you put children at the front of any conversation – pictures and video help to hook people in.
  • Work with your partner primary and secondary schools. Sharing the costs as well as the tasks makes low cost residentials more sustainable, and has the enormously beneficial side effect of enabling children from different schools to get to know one another – enhancing transition is an excellent excuse to start planning low cost residentials.
  • Appeal to the corporate sector, not only for funding but also for time and expertise. Corporate Social Responsibility is serious business and companies are keen to find ways to show their involvement in the local community. Make the aims of your residential clear and ask for money, for employee time to help prepare your residential, for equipment, or for sponsorship of children. They will be eager to let their clients know they support a needy child or made something happen.
  • Be eco-friendly and sell the sustainability aspect of your residential to landowners. You will be ‘treading lightly’ – not leaving rubbish, making lots of noise or damaging property. Landowners will be much more willing to let you stay on their land, and the local canoe club will be much more willing to lend you their boats and instructors for an afternoon if you make your environmental responsibility credentials clear.
  • Make use of volunteers. Staffing is likely to be the biggest cost for your residential, yet you may be surprised at how many members of the local community are prepared to volunteer for different aspects of the event. Ask for help with maintenance of equipment, transportation, a supply of wood for fires, or ask volunteers to be an extra pair of eyes and hands on the residential itself.
  • Ask for more. Ask parents to donate to the cause. Whilst some parents may not be able to pay the full cost others may be willing to help pay for more than just their own child. Ask parents to ‘sponsor’ another place on the residential – anonymously of course.  Your school may also wish to subsidise places using Pupil Premium or other funds.
  • Decide what your residential has to offer and tailor your fundraising accordingly. A car company may not donate cash for a residential, but a company that makes outdoor clothing maybe willing to provide equipment or clothing – they will be thinking of their future customers, so highlight the positive outcomes of the residential to emphasise this!
  • Get your children to do the talking. A letter from a child may have far more impact than one from a teacher.  Also consider taking children to visit potential sponsors…
  • Offer something in return. What can your school community do in return?  Why not offer to do something for a landowner in return for a free stay in a field, or get children to write to the local paper thanking a sponsor?  You probably have many hands and willing helpers. You could help build a footbridge, clear a ditch or help tidy a site.
  • Fundraising. Don’t forget traditional fundraising streams and methods. Place children at the centre of the efforts and make sure the local press and other media know about your residential and what it offers children in terms of learning and wellbeing.  Investigate crowdfunding opportunities, read about how Hanover Primary School crowdfunded for a new playground, which received media coverage from the BBC and local newspaper The Islington Gazette.
  • Travel light. Travel costs can be huge so consider them right from the start when arranging your residential and try to minimise luggage, use public transport where possible. Can you make use of another local school’s mini-buses?  This could be cheaper than commercial hire.