Kim Somerville, campaign coordinator for Learning Away, explains what pupils, teachers and schools can gain from high-quality residential experiences over the winter months
Residentials are often the most memorable experience of pupils’ school days; for their teachers, they are rewarding, if exhausting. Learning Away’s previous research has declared them as “providing opportunities and benefits/impacts that cannot be achieved in any other educational context or setting. The impact is greater when they are fully integrated with a school’s curriculum and ethos.” They have been described by teachers as “worth half a term in school”.
Learning Away’s compelling action research, spanning five years with 60 secondary, primary and special schools discovered that the impact of a residential is even greater when schools follow a set of guiding principles which can transform residentials into highly effective, ‘Brilliant Residentials’. These principles include residentials being led by teachers, co-designed with students, fully integrated into the curriculum, and affordable for all. If schools follow these principles, teachers have acknowledged they can improve pupils’ resilience, achievement, relationships and engagement with learning, often playing a “transformational role” in re-engaging some of the most disadvantaged pupils with their studies.
A WINTER GETAWAY
The transformation is greater the sooner a residential takes place in the school year. Yet residentials in schools are more likely to take place in the summer term, just as the class teacher is saying goodbye to their class.
Here are six benefits of taking your students’ on a winter residential supported by the evidence collected through the Learning Away action research. The first is that it boosts resilience and wellbeing.
Residentials improve students’ resilience, self‑confidence and wellbeing. Students are more willing to try something new and ask for help, push themselves and participate in class. Imagine teaching a class with more self-belief for the rest of the school year after going on a winter residential.
Eighty-seven per cent of secondary students felt more confident to try new things after a residential. The second benefit to a winter residential is that it will increase engagement, including positive changes in behaviour and attendance. Going on a residential in the winter months will give them a passion for learning which can live on throughout the year. Seventy-two per cent of primary pupils said that their behaviour at school is better after a residential and 71 per cent of secondary pupils felt more strongly motivated to learn.
BACK AT SCHOOL
The third benefit of a winter residential is that it allows time for learning and development to be embedded back in school. We know residentials have a long term impact on students’ progress and attainment when followed up on their return to school.
Seventy-seven per cent of pupils said the way they were taught on the residential will help them do better in the subject in question.
The fourth benefit is that a winter residential will foster deeper relationships, which are sustained back in school. The sooner a teacher gets to know their pupils, the sooner they can ‘set them up for success’. Winter residentials allow relationships between staff and students to become more trusting and respectful back in the classroom. Students get to know teachers as individuals; staff gain a better understanding of their students and how to respond to them. Seventy-nine per cent of primary pupils said they know their teacher better as a result of their residential and 84 per cent of secondary students said they get on better with others in their class.
SHORTER DAYS, LONGER NIGHTS
Another benefit to a winter residential is that you can discover new learning opportunities outdoors, thanks to the longer nights and shorter day. For example, you could try out astronomy, take a night walk, go exploring in the dark, and enjoy exhilarating winter weather.
The beginning of the school year is also a great time of year to kick start key subjects with inspiring hands on learning indoors. This includes exploring art galleries and museums, experiencing historical re-enactments, and learning about local traditions .
The final benefit of a winter residential is that it offers greater return on investment, as often the winter months can be more affordable. Why not have a sleep-over in the school hall or within the school grounds to keep costs low? Many residentials providers have reduced rates, or offer discounts over the winter period.
CAMPAIGN FOR WINTER RESIDENTIALS
Learning Away is working collaboratively with residential providers to raise awareness about the benefits of residentials for schools in the winter months through a new #WinterResidentials campaign. The campaign will be an extension to the successful #BrilliantResidentials campaign and will launch in Autumn 2017, it will offer schools free resources to help plan and deliver inclusive residential experiences for children of all ages from all backgrounds.
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