More and more schools every year are acknowledging and embracing the importance of outdoor educational learning to the curriculum. 86% of primary schools and 99% of secondary schools offer their pupils at least one school residential trip opportunity during their time in school.
More than just a fun ‘school trip away’, residential trips for schools are a key part of the national curriculum. The diverse and high quality school trips on offer mean teachers can create experiences that enhance pupils’ classroom learning, adding opportunities pupils may not otherwise have, particularly in the case of urban schools where children have limited access to natural outdoor environments in their day to day learning. The English Outdoor Council actively campaigns to ensure schools are offering pupils interesting and meaningful adventures, educational school trips and outdoor learning opportunities in line with the curriculum. It promotes the importance of allowing children to connect with the outdoor world, and the powerful and inspirational lessons to be learned by getting children outside.
School trips that represent value for money
With school budgets tighter than ever and parents always keen to know how their money is being spent, schools must offer residential school trips that deliver more than simply a fun weekend away at an activity centre in the UK. Teachers and headteachers work closely with educational trip organisers to develop interesting, educational and inspirational adventure and educational itineraries with specific learning and behaviour management goals in mind.
Weekends and even weeks away at outdoor activity centres can offer a wide range of diverse and exciting activities from developing practical bushcraft skills like firelighting, tracking, foraging and shelter building, to outdoor educational adventures like abseiling, climbing, archery and team games. All exciting and fun activities for pupils to enjoy, but all chosen with specific goals in mind – whether it’s confidence building for children unwilling or unable to engage with their teachers and/or peers in the classroom, teambuilding to encourage pupils to work together, or to encourage independence and a sense of personal responsibility for pupils moving on to a new school or Key Stage.
Residential school trips help restore balance to the classroom
The pressure on children to achieve higher results in more comprehensive subjects grows year on year, and parents are often the first to admit today’s curriculum demands much more than it did when they were at school. With so much to cover and the pressure to achieve, the classroom can be an intense and claustrophobic place. So Residential trips for schools are not just beneficial but vital to providing balance and a renewed enthusiasm for learning. There is no better reward for a teacher than a pupil’s beaming face glowing with pride having built their own fire, or seeing pupils previously struggling to be in the same room huddled closely together working on building their own shelter.
Combatting child obesity
“Adventure activity and sports skills can form the foundation of life-long interests, as well as address the health and obesity agendas.” The Guardian The quote from The Guardian above in an article extolling the benefits of outdoor adventure and educational school trips also highlights the ever-increasing issue of health and obesity issues among children. With child obesity on the rise, it is more important than ever for schools to offer children legitimate opportunities to engage with the outdoors and try sports that not only get them active for the duration of the school residential trip, but also inspire a love of adventure that will stay with them and help them develop into fit, active and healthy adults.
Building self esteem
As well as the physical health benefits, school residential trips have been proven to have a positive effect on children’s self esteem and confidence levels, thereby improving their emotional health and well being. The importance of allowing children to explore their environment, take responsibility for creating their own fire / filtering their own water, and generally sustaining themselves with minimal obvious adult intervention is significant.
Even the down time of a school residentialwhere children can relax, play and take stock is hugely important in allowing children to make their own decisions and discover who they are. For children Residential trips for schools offer a unique opportunity for them to claim their independence, make their own decisions and build new friendships. Undoubtedly, a school residential trip can bring about positive, long term change for pupils and teachers both in and out of the classroom. While we shouldn’t ignore valid health and safety concerns and ever-present financial restrictions on both parents and schools, we must recognise that well planned Residential trips run by experienced organisations with a track record of successful schools partnerships are not just advisory, they are compulsory. And with our government in agreement, we can expect ever more exciting outdoor learning opportunities in the future. “Learning outside the classroom is not some optional extra… Residential and educational school Trips and getting out of the classroom should be part and parcel of school life”- Ed Balls (Education Secretary)
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