Schools were very clear that non-traditional lower-cost residentials must be as purposeful and effective as the traditional educational visits of the past. It was a pre-condition that reducing the overall cost must not affect the overall value of the experience – in fact, schools aimed to increase the value of the experience by involving students and staff more thoroughly throughout. In order to create cost effective residentials, the Learning Away schools tested a range of strategies including:
- Using school grounds as the residential venue
- Using local sites as residential venues
- Delivering more activities themselves
- Using student or adult volunteers to support residentials.
On evaluating their lower-cost models, the Learning Away schools found more than a purely financial transformation; lower-cost models led to lasting and positive cultural changes: staff became more confident at planning and leading activities; programmes of activity were better integrated into the school curriculum; and student participation increased. The increased involvement of staff in residential activities also had a welcome effect on staff-student relationships, which evidence showed was maintained once everyone returned to school.