About Learning Away

Action Research Phase (2009-2015)

During its first ‘action research’ phase, Learning Away worked closely with over 60 primary, secondary and special schools in 13 partnerships across the UK, in order to enhance young people’s learning, achievement and wellbeing by developing, piloting and evaluating the impact of residential experiences as an integral part of the curriculum.

The main aim of Learning Away is to encourage schools to make a significant shift in their commitment to providing high-quality residential learning experiences for their students. We have tried to achieve this by:

  • working with schools to develop exemplary practice
  • collecting and disseminating compelling evidence of positive impact
  • making the case to school leaders for increasing the amount of high-quality residential learning that takes place
  • engaging increasing numbers of schools in the development of their residential practice
  • building and sharing a bank of tools, resources and case studies
  • maximising the impact of our activities by working in partnership with key organisations like residential providers and the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

Residential models developed by the Learning Away school partnerships have included a variety of camping scenarios (on school sites, locally or further afield, ranging from ‘back to basics’ to ‘glamping’), youth hostelling, partnering with outdoor education and heritage providers, and school exchanges.

Each partnership of schools had a distinct identity and focused on the challenges and themes relevant to their particular context, including the Key Stage 2/3 transition; GCSE and core subject attainment; resilience, confidence and well-being; community cohesion; pupil leadership; curriculum development (or redesign); raising aspiration; family support; and cultural diversity.

To support schools and residential providers wanting to design their own brilliant residential learning programmes, Learning Away has now: 

Campaigning Phase (2016 – present)

Now it its second ‘campaigning’ phase, Learning Away is managed by a consortium of organisations, led by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC). These organisation are united in their commitment to ensure more young people have access to high-quality brilliant residential learning experiences. The consortium is supported by a further two years of ‘legacy’ funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The main objectives of the consortium are:

  • To continue to make the case for and build the evidence base for brilliant residentials;
  • To share learning of what we know works including a proactive campaign to take the research from the initial ‘action research’ phase to schools, providers and the wider public policy debate;
  • To measure the success of the campaign against a series of outputs, having first established a baseline and monitoring framework;
  • To create more resources to support schools to run brilliant residentials including access to CPD, practical tools and improving offers from providers;
  • To create more resources to support providers to run brilliant residentials (including the development of new, cheaper or easier to access, models of provision).

Keep in touch with Learning Away by following us on Twitter and/or by subscribing to our termly  e-newsletter.

Watch this short film to learn more about the Brilliant Residentials story and campaign.

Background and History

Background and History

In 2009, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation invited proposals from primary, secondary and special schools across the UK to work with us in developing and piloting innovative residential learning programmes.

Learning Away was founded on the belief that high-quality residential experiences can provide extremely powerful learning opportunities for children and young people – and indeed, for adults as well. When we considered that less than a fifth of a young person’s waking time is spent in school, the opportunity to engage them with the much more intensive, rich and deep learning experiences that residentials can offer was compelling.

What do we mean by a ‘residential’?

Our particular interest is in residential experiences. By this we meant learning opportunities that include at least one overnight stay for students away from home. This could include overnight stays in school or local community facilities, in tents or under the stars, as well as residential visits to destinations further from home. Residential experience does not have to mean outdoor learning.

What do we mean by a ‘learning programme’?

To achieve greatest impact from residentials, it is important that they are planned in the context of the wider curriculum and longer-term learning aims, and not simply as stand-alone experiences. The residential experience is an integral part of a carefully planned, longer-term learning programme.

A key challenge for schools is to connect residential experiences with students’ day-to-day learning to ensure that the benefits are effectively built upon and sustained back in school.

Planning a progression of residential opportunities throughout young people’s school careers can really accelerate their development as successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens.

What sort of innovations were we looking for?

We were particularly interested in proposals which intended to demonstrate an innovative, high impact approach to one or more of the following:

  • The type of activities and learning experiences that can take place within a residential setting, and the learning outcomes that can be achieved from these.
  • The integration of pedagogical or curriculum approaches, which are developed or predominant in a residential setting, within day-to-day teaching and learning practices back in school.
  • The effective use of a progression of residential experiences over a young person’s school career, or at key points of transition.
  • The use of residential experiences as a significant catalyst for a desired, longer-term change process within a school or group of schools.
  • Overcoming structural, organisational or funding issues that commonly prevent schools from undertaking residentials, offering them to all students, or using residential experiences as fully as they would like.
  • Assessing and evidencing the impact of residential experiences on learning outcomes for children and young people, and on wider outcomes for school staff, whole schools, partnership of schools or the wider community.

Learning Away was a £2.25m Paul Hamlyn Foundation special initiative, aiming to support schools to significantly enhance young people’s learning, achievement and wellbeing by using innovative residential experiences as an integral part of the curriculum.

Learning Away Steering Group – Action Research Phase

In its initial phase, Learning Away was guided by a steering group made up of Paul Hamlyn Foundation trustees, staff, and key sector experts.

Learning Away was a special initiative of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, overseen by its Board of Trustees and Education and Learning Programme Committee.

Peter Wilson-Smith (Chair)

Peter Wilson-Smith is a Senior Consultant for Quiller Consultants, advising a range of clients on strategic communications, reputation management and financial public relations, drawing on his long experience of financial and business journalism.

His journalistic career spanned daily and weekly newspapers, as well as reporting and presenting on television and radio.

He was Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director of Financial News, Europe’s leading specialist publication for the financial industry. Before Financial News, he spent five years at the BBC as a reporter on The Money Programme and also presented Financial World Tonight and Analysis on Radio 4. Before that he set up the business section when The Independent on Sunday launched and was one of the original team for The Independent where he was Deputy Business and City Editor.

Educated at St Catherine’s College, Oxford with an MA in English Literature, Peter is also chairman of the Oxford School of Drama, one of the leading drama schools in the UK, and a trustee of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Susie Batchelor

Susie Batchelor was Head of Education for Historic Royal Palaces from 2002 to 2013, leading the transformation of the service at five sites – principally the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace – and development of inspiring programmes for schools, families and adult learners reaching over 300,000 learners each year. Programmes included schools partnerships and creative projects, artist residencies, family trails and activities, and lectures and practical workshops for adults.

Previously Susie worked for the National Trust in a regional education and interpretation role and as a teacher and senior manager in primary education in south west London.

Susie is particularly interested in arts and literacy based approaches to learning through the built heritage, and in the preservation and development of traditional craft skills.  She is a Trustee of the Group for Education in Museums (GEM), the voice for heritage learning, and a judge for the Sandford Award for Heritage Education.

Professor Sir Tim Brighouse

Professor Sir Tim Brighouse has a degree in modern history from Oxford University; he trained to be a teacher and taught in a grammar school in Derbyshire and a secondary modern school in South Wales.  He was Deputy Education Officer for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), Chief Education Officer for Oxfordshire 1978-1989 and for Birmingham 1993-2002 and Professor of Education, Keele University 1989-2003. Tim was Commissioner for London Schools/Chief Adviser for London Schools (2002-2007).  Currently, he is Visiting Professor at the Institute of Education London.

Tim has written books on education, made numerous media broadcasts and conference speeches.  He has honorary doctorates from the Open University, Oxford Brookes, Exeter, Warwick, Birmingham, West of England and Sheffield Hallam. Tim was awarded a knighthood in the 2009 New Year’s Honours list.

Professor David Hopkins

David Hopkins is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University of London, where he also held the inaugural HSBC iNet Chair in International Leadership. He is currently Education Director for multi-academy trust, Bright Tribe. David is also a trustee of Outward Bound; Executive Director of the charity ‘Adventure Learning Schools’; in addition he holds visiting professorships at six national and international universities; and consults internationally on school reform. He has served three Secretaries of State as Chief Adviser on School Standards and Director of the Standards and Effectiveness Unit. He was also Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Nottingham and was a member of the team that secured the location of the National College for School Leadership there and was later appointed to the College’s Governing Council and chaired its first ‘Think Tank’.

David is an international mountain guide and was previously an outward bound instructor, school teacher, university lecturer and tutor. He is committed to improving the quality of education for all. His professional interests are in the areas of learning and adventure, teacher and school development, leadership, educational change and policy implementation. Most recently, he has led the transformation of primary and secondary schools in Northern Melbourne as well as elsewhere in Victoria, Australia.

Gwynne Kynaston

Gwynne Kynaston is the Headteacher at Rownhams St John’s Primary School in Hampshire.  Until April 2014 she was Headteacher of Burley Primary School, a single form entry school in Hampshire praised by Ofsted for its strong leadership, and robust self-evaluation and improvement practices. Gwynne is passionate about developing holistic learners through designing a relevant, experiential and creative curriculum that supports learners’ growth of knowledge alongside learning-to-learn skills.

Gwynne is the lead for the New Forest Learning Away partnership of schools, and has worked to influence practice and improve residentials so that they have become an integral part of the curriculum in her school.

Gwynne feels privileged to be able to work in the New Forest, and believes it her duty to ensure that children learn to love their environment, respect it and know how to care for it now and in the future.

Mike Tones

Mike Tones is an education consultant specialising in sustainable development and learning outside the classroom. From October 2006 to April 2009, Mike was seconded to the DCSF as one of two Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto Champions, responsible for promoting the importance and impact of LOtC with a variety of partners and key stakeholders and across government. Prior to this Mike served as Inspector for Sustainability Education with Durham County Council.

Neil Wilson

Neil Wilson is the recently-retired Executive Headteacher of the South Manchester Inclusive Learning Enterprise (SMILE) Trust, supporting young people in Wythenshawe, South Manchester, aged 3-19. During his leadership, the Federation of schools significantly improved the numbers of young people going into good employment or university, with NEETs being reduced from 15% in 2009 to less than 2% in 2013.

The SMILE Trust federation of schools is a core member of the Learning Away community of practice. The schools have developed an innovative programme of family residentials.  In 2010 the federation won Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Award for Best Provision 11-19 yrs.

The former Deputy and Headteacher at Newall Green High School, Neil won the Pearson/Royal Air Force Teaching Award for the North West Head Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in 2006. Since handing over the leadership of the high school in 2011 he has focused on developing a large-scale speech language and communication programme with the Communication Trust. This is being developed as a national model for speech and language in mainstream schools.

Learning Away Team – Action Research Phase

The action research phase of Learning Away was made possible through the dedication and expertise of a wide-ranging group of people.

During the first phase of the project, each Learning Away partnership  of schools was led by a coordinator or group of teachers, whose contributions to our shared project were invaluable. Find out more about these team’s projects.

These teachers and school leaders were supported by a central advisory and coordination team.  Scroll down to learn more.

Peter Carne OBE, Learning Away Project Leader

Peter Carne was a teacher of Geography at two London comprehensive schools from 1976 to 1990. For five years he was seconded to the Inverliever Lodge Trust to manage its residential centre on the banks of Loch Awe in Scotland.

In 1990, Peter was appointed to set up and manage Greenwich’s Environmental Curriculum Service from its nine acre wildlife centre in south east London. He then worked for Learning through Landscapes (the school grounds charity) from 2000 to 2006, as Head of LTL in London and later as Director of Operations.

From October 2006 to April 2009, Peter was seconded to the DCSF as one of two Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto Champions, responsible for promoting the importance and impact of LOtC with a variety of partners and key stakeholders and across government. He joined Learning Away as Project Leader in 2011.

Peter was awarded an OBE in the 2010 New Year Honours List (for services to education).

Chris Loynes, Learning Away Project Advisor (North)

Dr Chris Loynes is a senior lecturer in Outdoor Studies at the University of Cumbria. He also consults in the UK and internationally for universities and experiential education organisations. He has recently been involved in evaluating several national projects that work in the outdoors and developing outdoor and creative arts programmes for youth and adults concerned with personal transformation. Currently he is exploring the application of outdoor, experiential approaches to raising issues of sustainability.

His first post at a comprehensive school involved the development of an outdoor education programme as an alternative curriculum. He moved on to lead the Brathay Hall’s Youth Development Programme. During this time he undertook a Churchill Fellowship to study outdoor leadership training world wide. He was the founder and editor of the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Leadership, the field’s professional journal, from 1980-2000. In 1987 he founded and managed Adventure Education, a training and publishing service for the outdoor education field.

As well as the voluntary youth sector and the outdoor education fields Chris has consulted in the education, aeronautical, hospitality, telecommunications and chemical industries. He has published widely in professional journals and conference proceedings. His PhD is a critical ethnographic study exploring the ways in which knowledge and power work within an outdoor experiential learning course.

Chris is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a keen naturalist, mountaineer, offshore sailor and sea kayaker.

Siân Williams, Learning Away Project Advisor (South)

Siân Williams was a teacher, head of department and head of year in inner London secondary schools from 1992 – 2002, during which time she participated in and ran a variety of school residentials.  In 2002 she gained her Masters in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, which focussed on the change to student-teacher relationships and engagement through learning on a residential programme.

Siân joined Lewisham local authority in south London in 2002 as part of the Excellence in Cities team, coordinating the Learning Mentor and Learning Support Unit initiatives across the borough for two years. She then led on a variety of programmes for the Children and Young People’s Directorate including anti-bullying, social and emotional learning, behaviour improvement and school safety, as well as the local authority’s highly regarded work to implement and embed the use of restorative practice with young people.

Siân became a freelance educational adviser and trainer in 2010, when she joined Learning Away. From 2010-2012 she was Head of Support for the National Youth Orchestra, where she organised and ran two-week residentials for 165 young people three times a year. Siân is also the Principal Consultant for Thorsborne and Associates UK, a company specialising in training and advising organisations in restorative practice, and in facilitating restorative conferences. She currently shares her time between working in the UK and her own Learning Away experience in Malawi.

Abigail Knipe, Grants Officer / Learning Away Coordinator

During her time at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Abigail Knipe was a Grants Officer in the Education and Learning programme, having joined PHF in 2010 as a Grants Assistant. She previously worked as Projects Officer for education charity Escape Artists, and now works for the British Council.

An active volunteer, Abigail has served as a primary school governor since 2010 and is involved with a number of arts and education charities.

Abigail is trained as a proofreader, and holds an MA in contemporary art theory from Goldsmiths.

Nora Loewenberg, Grants Assistant

Nora Loewenberg joined the Paul Hamlyn Foundation in August 2011 as a Grants Assistant in the Education and Learning team. Before joining PHF, Nora worked on a school-based refugee project at the Employability Forum. Prior to this Nora was an office manager within a financial advisory firm.

Nora has also worked in a research and editorial role at Erfurt University in Germany, where she gained a Masters degree in literature and linguistics.

  • Photography: Photography used across the site is a mix of submitted images from schools and specially commissioned photography by Emile Holba.
  • Filming: Films used are a mix of footage submitted by schools and students and commissioned films by Fig Tree Film and Lottie Davies.
  • Evaluation: With thanks to the two Learning Away evaluation teams: CUREE (Centre for the Use of Research & Evidence in Education) and York Consulting.
  • Resources: Our free resources have been written by participating teachers, and we are grateful for the support of Julie Mountain at Play Learning Life in collating and editing these materials.

Learning Away is indebted for the support and guidance it received from its advocacy working group, whose membership includes: Mick Brookes (Former NAHT General Secretary), Sir Tim Brighouse (Former Schools Commissioner for London and advisory member of PHF’s Education and Learning Committee), Susie Batchelor (Former Head of Education, Historic Royal Palaces), Neil Wilson (cross-phase Executive Headteacher and member of Learning Away Community of Practice), Gwynne Kynaston (Primary Headteacher and member of Learning Away Community of Practice), Beth Gardner (Chief Executive, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom), Martin Smith (Chair of the English Outdoor Council and member of Learning Away Community of Practice), and Denise Barrows (working group chair and PHF Head of Education and Learning.

Keep in touch with Learning Away by following us on Twitter and/or by subscribing to our termly  e-newsletter.

The Team

The Team

The current Learning Away team are responsible for the ‘campaigning’ phase of Learning Away, this team are forever indebted to the first ‘action research’ phase team, which included the dedication and expertise of a wide-ranging group of people.  Find out more about these people in the background section.  This group included the Learning Away coordinators and participating staff at all the partner schools, their continued commitment to extending and developing their residential offers, engaging with the evaluation, and sharing what they learned through a period of significant national change was inspiring and we are delighted so many Learning Away Brilliant Residentials continue to take place.

Justine Lee, Communications and Fundraising Manager, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

Justine is the lead on the Learning Away campaigns, something she would love to be doing full time but squeezes this into approximately one day a week until funding permits for more! Justine has extensive experience in managing communications campaigns to encourage more learning outside the classroom, having worked for Canal and River Trusts, PGL and Duke of Edinburgh Award in various branding, communications and marketing roles.

Contact: justine.lee@lotc.org.uk

Kim Somerville, Chief Executive Officer, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

CLOtC are the lead organisation on the Learning Away Consortium. Kim led the Learning Away campaigns from May 2016 – May 2018 before becoming the Chief Executive of CLOtC.

Kim has been managing marketing and campaigns in the Education and Third Sector since 2002, with the consistent cause of helping young people to raise aspirations and flourish. From 2007 – 2016 Kim was the Director of Marketing and Communications at Leeds Trinity University with the remit for improving access to the University through collaboration, which involved partnership working with over 500 schools.

Contact: kim.somerville@lotc.org.uk

  • Photography: Photography used across the site is a mix of submitted images from schools and residential providers and specially commissioned photography by Emile Holba.
  • Filming: Films used are a mix of footage submitted by schools and students and commissioned films by Fig Tree Film, Lottie Davies and Magpie Creative Communications.
  • Evaluation: With thanks to the two Learning Away evaluation teams: CUREE (Centre for the Use of Research & Evidence in Education) and York Consulting.
  • Resources: Our free resources have been written by participating teachers, and we are grateful for the support of Julie Mountain at Play Learning Life in collating and editing these materials.

 Keep in touch with Learning Away by following us on Twitter and/or by subscribing to our termly  e-newsletter.

Learning Away Consortium

Learning Away Consortium

In December 2015, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation agreed to provide a further two years of Learning Away ‘legacy’ funding  – to help ensure that all of the work achieved so far could be disseminated and shared more widely with schools and therefore have a greater and longer lasting impact. This legacy funding will be used to encourage many more schools to make a significant shift in their commitment to providing high-quality residential learning experiences or brilliant residentials for their students.

The funding has been awarded to a new Learning Away legacy ‘consortium’, a partnership or alliance of like-minded organisations working on behalf of the sector and led by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC). The main aims of this consortium are:

  1. To ensure a lasting legacy for the Learning Away programme
  2. To promote and champion residential learning to enable more young people to benefit from these experiences
  3. To ensure more effective and high-quality residential experiences
  4. To develop as a leading voice for residential learning.

The  funding will enable this consortium to:

  • Develop and implement a Learning Away/brilliant residentials ‘campaign’ with a focus on influencing schools, residential providers and policy makers (using impact evidence from the evaluation of Learning Away)
  • Develop and pilot a CPD programme for schools (using the learning developed by the 60 Learning Away ‘action research’ schools throughout the programme)
  • Investigate opportunities for further research.

Learning Away Consortium Members and Advisers

Follow Learning Away on Twitter or subscribe to the Learning Away e-newsletter to find out more.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) is one of the UK’s largest independent grant-giving organisations. PHF make grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future. In particular we are concerned with children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged.

We operate three partly overlapping programmes for our work in the UK: arts, education and learning, and social justice. Each of the three programmes has an open grants scheme focused on particular themes and priorities and also special initiatives through which the Foundation aims to address particular issues in order to make distinctive long-term contributions to improvements in society.

The Foundation’s Education and Learning Programme supports the development and dissemination of new ideas that can make a significant contribution to young people’s learning and achievement.

The Programme has a strong focus on supporting innovation and aims to achieve significant impact across a range of education themes, fostering practice-sharing between and within schools, local authorities and voluntary organisations. We will often support work which others may find challenging or which requires long-term solutions.

Learning Away was founded and initially developed by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Visit the Paul Hamlyn Foundation website for more information.