Evaluating your brilliant residential provides the evidence for celebrating students’ successes and achievements, as well as identifying what has not worked so well. It’s crucial to view evaluation as an integral part of planning and delivering your residential.

Why is evaluation important?

An effective evaluation will identify whether you have achieved what you set out to do, and whether there are any unexpected outcomes. It will help you to:

  • identify the outcomes for students and share it with other interested parties, e.g. parents/carers, governors
  • check whether what you are doing is still meeting the needs of young people and their families, and create a basis for next steps in your students’ learning
  • demonstrate whether you have used your resources – people, time and money – effectively
  • justify the opportunity and gather support for future experiences by illustrating to others what has been achieved
  • provide evidence of the educational value of the experience to potential funding providers
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in the residential experience.

What does a ‘good’ evaluation look like?

There are many different approaches to evaluation, and there is no one ‘right’ way that will work for all residentials. It is likely that you evaluate the classroom-based activities you develop already, and the reasons for evaluating outside the classroom, on residential, are no different. You should think about evaluation as part of the planning process for your residential learning programme. Before deciding which methods to use, it is important to think about what you are hoping to learn from the evaluation – what are the aims of your brilliant residential? What information, therefore, do you need to judge whether you have achieved them? It’s important to remember that effective evaluation is not an ‘add on’ or a ‘one-off event’ that is done ‘to’ those involved.  Instead it should be seen as a collaborative process that is done ‘with’ all those involved. Evaluation is most effective when it:

  • is a continuous (not just one-off) process informing planning and delivery as the project develops
  • involves all those with an interest in the project in defining the questions they want answered
  • uses imaginative and creative approaches, which engage those involved
  • highlights and celebrates successes and achievements
  • encourages an honest appraisal of progress, so that you can learn from what hasn’t worked as well as what has.