To help the Learning Away partnership schools adopt this approach to planning, Learning Away developed two theory of change planning tools, and accompanying examples, to map aims, outcomes, outputs, inputs and assumptions.
The two tools are designed to be used together.
- The flow diagram planning tool explains each step in the approach and walks you through the order of planning. Here is a detailed example of how school staff might think through the flow diagram.
- The second tool is a template that you can print out and fill in (we suggest using A3 paper) using the directions from the flow diagram.
To help you further, we have also included some examples of completed planning templates from the Learning Away partnerships. These examples map Bulwell EAZ’s cross-partnership Year 3/4 camp on the Bulwell Academy site and Canterbury Academy’s GCSE attainment programme. Read these examples in conjunction with the planning tool guidance to understand how the process of building a brilliant residential starts with the bigger picture.
The involvement of young people in planning the residential (co-construction) should not be overlooked; this is frequently a key driver of long-term success.
Read more about the theory of change approach to planning, what it helps you do and why it is so useful for planning residentials.
The Learning Away partnership schools devised the following key questions to help shape their brilliant residentials. Keep the long-term aim and intended outcomes of your residential learning programme at the forefront of your thinking as you explore these key questions:
Who will attend the residential?
- Will you be working with targeted groups, a whole year group, or mixed year groups?
- How will you ensure it’s affordable for the young people you aim to reach?
- How will you staff the residential?
- Will you use volunteers and/or student leaders as well as school staff?
- How will you identify suitable staff?
- What other potential barriers can you identify, e.g. parent / schools relationships?
What activities will best support young people in achieving the intended outcomes?
- Do these activities include curriculum delivery? Find out more about curriculum integrated residential experiences here in our free resource.
- Do these activities include adventurous activities?
- Will activities include those led by providers, teachers, visiting experts or a mixture of all three?
- Will young people be involved in co-constructing the residential and choosing activities they feel will best achieve the residential’s outcomes? Have a look at a case study about co-construction here in our free resource pack.
- What role will informal time on the residential play in achieving the intended outcomes?
When is the best time in the school year for a residential to take place? Consider:
- School timetables; community and cultural priorities; budgeting implications.
- Allow sufficient time after a residential for its impact to be embedded and evaluated.
- Likely weather conditions and what implications they have for the types of experiences on offer, for example, camping or hiking.
- Age of the children/young people involved, for example KS1 children may only go away for one night and older children for longer.
Where will the residential be held?
- How far away is it feasible or appropriate to be from home? Consider what the shared journey could contribute to the intended outcomes. Would the cost of travel be prohibitive? Can certain activities/experiences only be accessed further away?
- What type of venue is suitable for the number of young people participating and the activity programme you are planning? Read about the options here.
- What venues are available within the budget?
- Could camping be an option? Camping is a lower-cost option, but will the activities built around camping contribute to the intended outcomes for young people? Will sufficient staff commit to a camping residential? Find out more about planning and delivering lower-cost residential options here.
How will we know the residential has achieved its outcomes and long-term aims?
- What will success look like during and after the residential?
- How will our chosen activities and outputs lead to the outcomes and long-term aims?
This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions. With each choice there are key practicalities to consider, including: affordability; the balance between safety, risk and benefit; working with parents and carers to help them truly appreciate the benefits of the residential; and staffing the residential – including strategies to support and develop participating staff beforehand.
An overview of these practicalities can be explored here.