A new study confirms the profound and transformative impact that residential experiences can have on pupils. Findings also conclude that this impact is significantly greater for ‘vulnerable’ pupils.

This new study undertaken by University of Cumbria found that residential experiences had a positive impact on pupil’s progress and that residential’s sustained attainment amongst ‘vulnerable’ students who were likely, for personal and family reasons, to underachieve for in relation to their predictive grades.

The comparative research project involving year 6 pupils from eight schools in Wigan who took part in a four-night residential experience, found the experience enhanced and transformed relationships, increased engagement and helped the pupils to become resilient and mindful, with enhanced metacognition.

Schools involved found the nature of a residential enabled their pupils to find new ways of being friendly and children were able to develop friendships across normal social groups. They experienced a sense of achievement, a growing sense of motivation to learn and be part of the community, along with growing respect for each other. Children also developed pro-active behaviours in the tasks, in community life and socially.

The study was conducted by University of Cumbria on behalf of Learning Away, a consortium of organisations committed to championing the benefits of school and youth residentials, to test the initial Learning Away research released in 2017 and further explore the impact of these experiences.

Chris Loynes, University of Cumbria, explains: “The positive impact on attainment for ‘vulnerable’ pupils is was an important finding. The explanation put forward by teachers was that the confidence gained whilst away on the residential, coupled with enhanced relationships with peers and staff, compensated for the negative impacts on learning experienced outside of the school’s control.”

Asa Gurden, Head of Scout Adventures and chair of Learning Away, said: “This latest study attests the significant benefits that residentials have for young people and supports the findings of our earlier research. Residentials impact on a range of outcomes including wellbeing, confidence, self-belief and peer to peer and student to teacher relationships. We believe that residentials can be an instrumental tool in a school’s portfolio as they look at how they can develop their students’ character and resilience.”

Kim Somerville, chief executive, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, said: “A particular strength of the residential is the impact it can have on individual pupils with personal issues that are affecting learning and socialisation. We were told, for example, of how a pupil who was an elective mute made friends with the instructor’s dog and started to talk to the dog. This progressed to the child being able to talk to the instructor and then to other pupils.”

Download the full research report