The move from primary to secondary school is a daunting and formative experience in any young person’s education and development and residential trips for secondary schools can help. We all remember our first day of secondary school, shiny new shoes and crisp new uniform to match the new friends, new teachers and new subjects. It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking time, and the lead-up to, and first few weeks of Year 7 are key to ensuring young people enjoy a positive start to their secondary school education, the platform for a successful school trip.
Why getting the transition to secondary school right is so important
More and more schools are realising the many and varied benefits of residential trips for secondary schools in aiding the transition to secondary school. The traditional Year 6 week away is designed to celebrate the end of exams, as a last hurrah with the friends you’ve known since nursery, and to introduce the independence and resilience that will be key for the next stage of pupils’ education.
After leaving the comfort of Year 6 where they have grown to be school leaders and cultivated a solid friendship group and easy familiarity with teachers and peers, Year 7 can come as a rude awakening even after best efforts at primary school to prepare them for what’s to come. The most effective secondary schools recognise the importance of building a Year 7 transition strategy that offers a range of supportive aids to allow students to settle into life at secondary school smoothly, and to settle into their new school environment as a welcoming, nurturing community.
Building residential trips into your Year 7 transition strategy
A residential trip for secondary schools can play a key role in an effective Year 7 transition strategy, offering students an invaluable opportunity to build skills and relationships in a neutral environment away from the classroom, from academic pressures and friendship anxieties. The right residential trip for secondary schools can support schools and students to:
- Build friendships with peers outside of their own class, creating a wider social network
- Demonstrate skills and talents they might not have the opportunity to use in the classroom
- Give teachers and students the opportunity to build trust outside of the confines of the classroom
- Introduce classroom teaching in a unique and immersive way
Key features of a residential trip for secondary schools to support the school transition
The benefit of using a residential trip for secondary schools to aid transition is its adaptable format which can be tailored to meet your requirements. You can work with your activity provider to build an itinerary that offers the key elements necessary to support students new to the school and to each other, including:
- A focus on promoting positive mental health. This can be done in a variety of ways:
- Providing a safe space, where students can feel confident engaging with activities physically, and expressing their emotions.
- Ensuring accompanying staff have the skills and training to be aware of students’ differing emotional needs, and provide tailored support when needed
- Building time into the itinerary for students to communicate with each other and with the accompanying adults
- Setting ground rules. As they enter a new school environment students will be expected to quickly learn and abide by the school rules, and live by the school values. An offsite residential provides the ideal opportunity for devising activities that demonstrate why those rules and values are so important, and teach them in a positive, tangible way that helps to cement values like respect, kindness and resilience as traits to live by not just in school but in life.
- Building teacher trust and respect. In the classroom teachers’ responsibilities to safeguarding, to managing a class and teaching a complex curriculum leaves little time and space for building trust and individual communication with students. On a residential trip or secondary schools the safeguarding and group management responsibility is handed over to the activity providers, leaving teachers free to enjoy activities with students, to demonstrate their fun side, and to build a bond with students who can get to know their teacher as someone they can trust and relate to. So it’s important to ensure the teachers accompanying the trip are the ones most likely to be working with children in their first year, and that activities allow for teachers to join in with their group.
- A transition residential is a great opportunity for teaching some of the new elements of a secondary education so it’s worth considering how you can build in teaching opportunities around, for example:
- Geography – fieldwork / map skills
- Art – observational art / creativity
- PSHE – personal wellbeing, the wider world, citizenship community and responsibility
- Design & technology – sustainable product design
- Beyond education. While it’s a unique opportunity to lend a new perspective to classroom learning, it’s important to ensure your activity programme prioritises the elements that are most important to an effective transition residential that boosts confidence and gives students a positive start to life at secondary school
- Time and space to just be, and to spend time with friends, without having to rush to fit into a busy timetable
- The opportunity to unplug from devices, to get back to basics, to enjoy life’s simple things – nature, fresh air, friendships and fun.
The best time to run your secondary school residential
For the most positive and long-lasting impact, it’s ideal to hold your transition residential as close to the start of the new school year as possible. This way it forms part of the settling in / transition agenda, students can start the year with a broad friendship base beyond those in their classes, and teachers can identify students’ strengths, skills and support needs in order to best support them in the classroom throughout the coming year.
Book your Wildchild secondary school trip to support your next cohort of students
Wildchild Adventure specialise in outdoor adventure residential trips that build confidence and develop skills and characteristics that will benefit children in and out of the classroom. We work with schools to tailor an itinerary that supports all the elements to meet your requirements, so feel free to get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss and devise your ideal secondary school trip.
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