Even for the most confident of young people going on a residential trip can be a daunting prospect so for the least confident pupils, committing to a residential can be a big step. Some individuals may excel academically within and feel very confident in this safe classroom environment but this sense of confidence can be less apparent when challenged with a windsurfing session for example.

For those who are shy in nature or who are not used to being outside an outdoor adventure may equally feel like a daunting prospect. Even for the most sporty individuals, achieving on the football pitch or hockey pitch is one thing but being faced with a whole new type of activity such as sailing or high ropes may be a completely different matter.

This is the beauty of a residential trip - for the most part young people are seen as equal and on a completely level playing field. Individuals are not assessed by their academic or physical ability but more how young people respond to new situations and surroundings and how they grow and develop on a personal and social level.

Here we look at some of the ways in which a residential trip can change the lives of children and young people, in particular the quieter, lower-level pupils who struggle in the classroom environment.

Improved engagement

In May 2015, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation issued an Evaluation report for Learning Away which examined what is about an overnight stay that brings about such positive and powerful outcomes for young people, long after they return back to school. They found that a residential trip can ‘significantly improve students engagement with their learning and this can be sustained beyond the residentials to bring about improved achievement for students in the longer- term, leading to better school attendance and behaviour. This improvement can be achieved for the most disengaged students and also for those who are compliant in school but do not feel high levels of ownership and responsibility for their own learning.’ (Evaluating Learning Away, Sally Kendall and John Rodger, May 2015)

Putting pupils in a new, exciting and different environment can be seen to bring shyer, quieter pupils out of their shell as they find that they are achieving in a different way and might be less intimidated by the less formal surroundings of a classroom.

“I think it probably helped the quiet ones. You can see them building relationships with other students and feeling more comfortable with them. They wouldn’t have done this in school.” (Staff Focus Group, Evaluating learning Away report 2015)

Increased confidence

Increased confidence is often the most common outcome of residentials identified by students and staff. Students leave a residential more willing to ask for help, try something new including ‘scary things’, pushing themselves and participating more in class; they also develop more self-belief and their self-esteem improves. This might be because they are often put out of their comfort zone and encouraged to learn a new skill. They have overcome things that they didn’t think possible and in turn this boosts their confidence in a big way!

In the survey 78% of KS2 pupils and 87% of secondary students had felt more confident to try new things they would not have done before the residential.

“Their confidence has increased. They hold themselves in higher esteem. We’re very good in schools at judging on levels and recording achievement based on targets. Camp showed them that we’re able to value them in different ways.” (Primary Staff Focus Group)

A sense of belonging and community

When young people go on a residential, they feel a real sense of community and belonging as they are part of a group and team. The memorability of experiences helps boost cohesion and a sense of belonging amongst pupils both during and after the residential. This could be because the activities encourage teamwork, stronger relationships and getting to know people who they don’t normally work with. Pupils who aren’t normally top of the class could excel in a more physical, logical or team work challenge. For looked after children, or those from a dysfunctional family this sense of belonging and community could be one which ignites a new perspective on life which can be taken back into the classroom and their daily life. On a residential trip develop better awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and what they can do to improve their performance.

“The sense of being ‘in it together’ and mutual encouragement went a long way towards supporting weaker performances and producing a higher attainment for some of the less confident or able candidates. This was something which could almost certainly not have been generated in a school setting.” (Secondary Staff Focus Group, Evaluating learning Away report 2015)

At Rockley we do our best to work with group leaders to support and challenge all members of the group so that everyone benefits from the residential trip in their own way. During one trip with us, a student from Kingsmill School who was partially blind was taught how to ride a bike by one of our Instructors. Here’s what the Group Leader had to say;

"Amazing group!!!! Seeing these children complete activities with 100% effort and really having the most wonderful time was really fab to see. The instructors have changed lives this week and we couldn’t be prouder."

Year after year we are amazed at the achievements of the children and young people that come on our trips and the transformation even in the week that they are with us can be remarkable! Get in touch to discuss further how a trip can benefit your pupils - 01202 677272, [email protected]


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