Here you can find a selection of tools and websites that members of the Learning Away community have found useful.

Useful Resources

This part of the website contains a selection of tools and websites that members of the Learning Away community have found useful.

We have separated it into three sections, shown below:

  • Planning a residential
  • Learning on a residential
  • Evaluating a residential

Many of the organisations listed also offer Continuing Professional Development to education staff.

Our lists are by no means exhaustive. We are keen to signpost high-quality, freely available resources, tools and services. If you think we’re missing something that you have found particularly useful in planning your own brilliant residentials, please contact us and we’ll look at adding it to the website.

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Planning a residential

There are many ways of planning a residential and many factors to consider.  You can read more about our theory about how change happens as a result of residentials, and about how school partnerships in the first phase of Learning Away planned their residentials here (getting started) and here (in-depth Planning tools resource). There are also many organisations beyond Learning Away that aim to help teachers planning residentials.  This page is designed to help point you in the right direction when you are searching for help with planning.

Making the case

We are convinced, by wider research, our own evaluation data and a wealth of on-the-ground experience shared with us by many school staff and young people, that residentials can be highly worthwhile and impactful ways of teaching and learning. We also understand that not everyone is as convinced as we are, so making the case for residential learning in schools can sometimes be a challenge.  The evidence to help you do so is out there, and our website provides you with the starting points here.

Achieving aims: developing a focused plan

Learning Away partnerships have developed ways of planning residentials that really focus on meeting students’ needs by planning clear aims and outcomes, then designing activities and cultivating an environment that enables students to achieve these.  This clarity has helped with: making the case for residentials within school; ensuring stronger links between the residential and in-school curriculum; and improving progression between residentials when they are part of a programme.  Below is a list of organisations that can help with this approach to planning, sometimes referred to as Theory of Change or Logic Models.

  • Charities Evaluation Services: Making Connections: Using a Theory of Change to Develop Planning and Evaluation – an introduction to the model, and practical support for developing a theory of change for your own programme.
  • The Institute for Research and Reform in Education: You Can Get There From Here – an article discussing how a logic model approach to planning can and has been used to support interventions in US districts.
  • The Center for Theory of Change is a non-profit organisation established to promote quality standards and best practice for the development and implementation of Theory of Change, with a particular focus on its use and application in the areas of international development, sustainability, education, human rights and social change.
  • The Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit – the EEF is a funder that particularly focuses on testing and evaluating interventions to improve the attainment of disadvantaged students. Its growing toolkit ranks a number of teaching and learning strategies against cost and impact on attainment. Some of these strategies are commonly used on residentials.

Logistics

There are many organisations that can help with planning the where, when, what, who and how of residentials, whether you’re staying locally or travelling abroad.  These are some you might find useful.

  • The Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) is a membership organisation for outdoor education providers of both residential and non-residential centres. Their website shows membership centres region by region. Most of their members hold senior positions in outdoor centres across the UK.
  • The National Association of Field Studies Officers (NAFSO) is a special interest group attached to the Institute for Outdoor Learning.  NAFSO is a UK-wide membership organisation representing professionals employed in teaching, developing and promoting field studies.
  • The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) supports all staff in schools taking young people outdoors to engage and enhance learning. OEAP members offer practical help, advice and support to staff taking children off site, to different environments including visits to local areas, museums, places of worship, residentials, visits abroad and adventure activities. Most Local Authorities are represented in the Panel. Search for your local adviser here.
  • The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and enhancing the good practice of those who work in the outdoors.  Their website provides teachers of all subjects and all ages with guidance on health and safety, curriculum links and opportunities for professional development.
  • The Field Studies Council (FSC) is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural environment. It publishes extensive resources and runs day and residential fieldwork activities and courses for teachers, young people and families at 17 field studies centres across the UK.
  • Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment  People enjoy the natural environment in many different ways. These include visiting the countryside, enjoying green spaces in towns and cities, watching wildlife and volunteering to help protect the natural environment. The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) survey, funded by Natural England, with support from Defra and the Forestry Commission, provides trend data on how people use the natural environment in England.
  • The Expedition Providers Association (EPA) is a membership organisation for the overseas youth expedition sector and  is made up of UK-based expedition providers catering for young people under 25 in full-time education.  EPA provides guidance on overseas travel, adventurous activities and cultural experiences.
  • Scout Activity Centres is a residential provider with centres across the UK, however it also offers a range of free tools and resources that teachers can download. These include suggested kitlists, the basics for a number of essential outdoor skills (simple knots, using axes and saws safely), and activity ideas.
  • The School Travel Forum (STF) is a not for profit organisation of leading school tour operators that promotes good practice and safety in school travel. Their website enables  lists all their ‘Assured Members‘.
  • The British Activity Providers Association (BAPA) is the trade association for private sector providers of residentials, activity holidays and courses in the UK.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides information, advice and consular services for those planning residentials outside the UK .
  • The Association of British Travel Agents provides useful for checking a travel agent’s membership to ensure bookings are covered for complaints, disputes and financial loss if the travel company fails.

Managing risk

Risk management is always a significant part of planning residentials.  We have found that, with good management, Learning Away school partnerships have safely run activities that would be considered high risk.  Some misunderstandings have developed about managing risks on residentials, and the websites below help clarify the issues.

  • Health and Safety Executive: School trips and outdoor learning activities – tackling the health and safety myths  To support and encourage schools, the Health & Safety Executive has published a myth-busting statement explaining what teachers should consider when organising learning outside the classroom experiences.
  • Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel: National Guidance for the Management of Outdoor Learning, Off-Site Visits and Learning Outside the Classroom  Guidance written by the OEAP for employers to adopt as their policy, and as guidance for their staff to use. Employees must be sure that their employer has adopted the guidance before using it.
  • English Outdoor Council (EOC): Nothing Ventured  The EOC is an umbrella body for those involved in outdoor education, training and recreation. Their website includes articles and literature surveys of research on the benefits of outdoor education and links to member bodies.  This report concentrates specifically on five myths that surround risk management on residentials.
  • The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and enhancing the good practice of those who work in the outdoors.  Their website provides teachers of all subjects and all ages with guidance on health and safety, curriculum links and opportunities for professional development. This page focuses on outdoor learning and safety.
  • Creative Star Learning blog: Health and Safety  The Creative Star Learning website contains many ideas about learning and playing outdoors.  This blog on Health and Safety is useful for myth-busting around what you can and can’t do with children whilst learning outdoors.

Funding and fundraising

Finding the funding to run residentials can be a challenge in schools where they are seen as curriculum enrichment rather than entitlement.  You can read about how Learning Away partnerships in the first phase of the project have tackled this issue here.   The following websites will also help you with funding and fundraising ideas.

  • Open Futures: fundraising tool-kit for schools Open Futures is a skills and enquiry-based curriculum development programme, and has developed a fundraising tool-kit for schools including guidance on how to ‘make the case’ for your project, useful templates, and a list of funders broken down by geographical area.
  • Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC): Funding  CLOtC is the national voice for learning outside the classroom.  Their funding section is a news feed that shares opportunities for funding these activities.
  • Field Studies Council (FSC): FSC is an environmental education charity dedicated solely to providing informative and enjoyable opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to discover, explore, be inspired by, and understand the natural environment. The FSC website’s Bursary Fund and Kids Fund sections include details about how to apply for help with both curriculum-focussed and non-statutory enrichment residential activities that are focussed on the natural environment.
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL): Funding  IOL  encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and enhancing the good practice of those who work in the outdoors.  Their website provides teachers of all subjects and all ages with guidance on health and safety, curriculum links and opportunities for professional development.  Their funding page has news and links to other useful organisations.
  • Creative Star Learning: List of grants for schools and youth groups  The Creative Star Learning website contains many ideas about learning and playing outdoors, and a section on grants that are available for schools and youth groups.
  • Parent Teacher Association Plus (PTA+): The PTA+ website acts as a host of resources aimed at bringing PTAs together and sharing success stories.  There are various sections with plenty of Fundraising ideas for schools.

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Learning on a residential

Over the course of Learning Away, our partner schools have become more confident about leading their own learning on residentials.  Whilst they still buy in experts when they need them, many teachers – and students – now plan and lead the majority, or all, of the activities on their residentials.  You can read more about their experiences here.

There is a wide variety of information and advice available on the web that will help you think about and plan residential learning for your students.  Here are some links to a selection of organisations, separated into five areas:

  • adventure learning
  • curriculum focus
  • personal development
  • holistic education
  • awards for residential experiences.

We would be very happy to hear from you with details of any other sites you find helpful so that we can add to the selection.  Contact us here.

Adventure Learning

Since 2009 and the creation of the Cumbrian-based Adventure Learning Schools (ALS) charity, a model has been developed that integrates Adventure into primary and secondary school curricula.  The approach aims to provide “a rich learning culture in which students not only meet and surpass high academic standards (especially in Literacy and Numeracy), but through the emphasis on adventure, increase their competence as learners, develop their personality and create increasingly effective learning environments for themselves as they move towards becoming citizens of our global world.”  Read more about ALS here.

Curriculum Focus

Our partner schools have found that providing students with a residential experience that focuses on a particular area, or areas, of the curriculum has a positive impact on their engagement and attainment (you can read more about this here, and look at a case study here).  The links below are starting points for thinking about integrating a curriculum focus into your residential.

  • Council for Subject Associations Details of most subject associations and links to their websites.
  • The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) is the national voice for learning outside the classroom, promoting the benefits of LOtC, working to influence policy and practice, and providing support for education practitioners, headteachers, governors and organisations that provide LOtC experiences.
  • Field Studies Council (FSC) is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural environment. It publishes extensive resources and runs day and residential fieldwork activities and courses for teachers, young people and families at 17 field studies centres across the UK.
  • National Association of Field Studies Officers (NAFSO) is a special interest group attached to the Institute for Outdoor Learning (see below).  It is a UK-wide membership organisation representing professionals employed in teaching, developing and promoting field studies.
  • The Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL) encourages outdoor learning by developing quality, safety and opportunity to experience outdoor activity provision and by supporting and enhancing the good practice of those who work in the outdoors.  Their website provides teachers of all subjects and all ages with guidance on health and safety, curriculum links and opportunities for professional development.
  • The Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel (OEAP) supports all staff in schools taking young people outdoors to engage and enhance learning. They have produced a set of Outdoor Learning Cards with many activities that can be used on residentials and do not require expert input.  Find out more about the cards and training here.
  • The Wild Network  is a growing movement focussed on re-wilding childhood, with the aim helping children to roam free, play wild and leader nature-rich lives. The Campaigns page of their website contains ideas for  learning activities and experiences that can be easily adapted and run by anyone working with children and young people.

Personal Development

It will probably come as no surprise that Learning Away residentials have had a big impact on students’ personal development, particularly on: relationships; leadership; and resilience, confidence and wellbeing.  You can see more information about our findings here.  The sites below provide information, links to research and details of school-based work that help to make sense of the impact that residential learning has in this area.

Relationships

  • The Collaboration for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is an American organisation dedicated to making evidence-based social and emotional learning an integrated part of education from pre-school to high school.  It has a comprehensive overview of what works in terms of effective social and emotional learning in schools and many links to current research.
  • The Education Endowment Fund toolkit has a section that provides a useful summary about social and emotional learning in schools.
  • The PSHE Association is the subject association for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education.  Its aim is to  raise the status, quality and impact of PSHE education and enable high quality PSHE education teaching and learning for all children and young people.  It provides information, advice and free resources to members.
  • Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) was a UK government-funded National Strategy that encouraged a whole-school approach to help create a climate and conditions that encourage students to develop their social and emotional skills.  A comprehensive suite of materials was produced for both primary and secondary schools, which can be found through the SEAL archive.

Leadership

  • University of the First Age (UFA) is an educational charity that trains young people to become role models and develop and lead learning opportunities for others in their communities.
  • Sports Leaders UK is a charity that acts as an Awarding Organisation providing nationally recognised qualifications that equip people with the skills and motivation to create and run sporting activities.

Resilience, confidence and well being

  • The Resilience Research Centre is a Canadian organisation based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.  It specialises in researching, through a variety of projects, factors that affect resilience in young people both positively and negatively through quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Action for Happiness is a UK-based organisation dedicated to building a happier society by bringing together like-minded people from all walks of life, drawing on the latest scientific research and backed by leading experts from the fields of psychology, education, economics, social innovation and beyond.
  • The Mindfulness in Schools Project is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to encourage, support and research the teaching of secular mindfulness in schools.  Research into mindfulness suggests it has a positive impact on stress, well being and symptoms of depression.
  • Young Minds is a UK charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. The charity campaigns, researches and influences policy and practice as well as providing expert knowledge to professionals, parents and young people through its Parents’ Helpline, online resources, training and development, outreach work and publications.
  • The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition represents fourteen charities dedicated to children and young people’s wellbeing.  It focuses on England and its aims are to improve information about children and young people’s mental health, encourage early intervention, mental health services and produce guidance for professionals.

Holistic education

There are a number of organisations interested in developing learning that focuses on the person as a whole and look at learning through a wide lens.  Residentials fit in well with their shared ethos, so we have picked out several to start your thinking.

  • Whole Education is a partnership of like-minded schools, organisations and individuals that believe that all young people should have a fully rounded education, developing the knowledge, skills and qualities needed to help them thrive in life and work.
  • Expansive Education is an organisation that promotes an approach to teaching and learning that develops life-long learners.  It holds action research by teachers as CPD as central to the approach, in order for them to develop positive attributes in learners, preparing individuals to meet the challenges of life and work.
  • The Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) Education programme of policy research and practical interventions seeks to find innovative solutions to entrenched educational problems.  One of its recent pieces of research, Schools with Soul, explores a new approach to Spiritual, Social, Moral and Cultural Education in schools.
  • The European Democratic Education Community is a non-profit organisation that promotes democratic education as a sensible educational model for all democratic states. Its members are individuals, schools and institutions throughout Europe with decades of experience in democratic education.  Its work is based on two pillars of democratic learning: self-determined learning; and a learning community based on equality and mutual respect.

Awards for residential experiences

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award: Information on the award scheme for participants, leaders and parents.
  • The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

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Evaluating a residential

Evaluating the impact of residentials on engagement, learning and relationships is a significant focus of Learning Away and through our action research and rigorous external evaluation we are adding to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the particular impact of residential learning.  We have found that evaluation had to be as simple as possible and planned in as part of the residential experience itself in order for it to be meaningful to students and staff, and for it to actually be completed!

As a result we have developed an evaluation system that has been tried and tested by Learning Away schools, more information about which can be found here.  We have also developed a practical way of evaluating residential learning with younger children in the Early Years and Key Stage 1, which is available as a resource here.

In addition to our own resources, here are some sites that you might find useful when planning your own evaluation.

  • The National Trust’s Friendly Evaluation Toolkit  is a practical toolkit, designed to help LOtC practitioners to evaluate learning activities. It outlines the different types of evaluation and gives guidance for identifying what you are trying to evaluate and how, using practical examples from others’ projects.
  • The ABC of Working with Schools is a resource for the museum sector, which does what it says on the tin! It includes a section on evaluating schools work with museums.
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Evaluation Resource Pack Developed by PHF and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (now the Learning and Work Institute), this practical pack was written for frontline workers and volunteers in the voluntary sector to help with evaluating their work. It explains the main aspects of evaluation in simple terms, and provides some examples of best practice.
  • KnowHow NonProfit: How to communicate your impact  Written by the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s online community, Know How ‘How-tos’ are s series of practical, step-by-step guides to key issues. This one focuses on strategies for communicating the impact of an intervention, but you can also browse the available titles.

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