22 September 2022
One of the real joys of bringing children on a residential is seeing them experience and enjoy the seasonal treasures of the countryside.
By Hannah Jones McVey - Residential Manager
One September, I walked alongside a pupil from London as she tried her first blackberry and marvelled “Why would anyone ever leave here if they got to eat these, for free, whenever they wanted to”.
I’ve seen year 6 pupils lose any attempt to look cool and run as wild and joyful as a toddler into the sea on a hot July day. And a highlight of my time at The Country Trust remains the gasp followed by a long, contented silence as I led children across the top of the dune at Horsey Bay in Norfolk to find the beach covered in seals on a cold March afternoon.
The Country Trust offers residentials which are:
Subsidised - We fundraise to cover 25% of the costs of every residential
Supported - Our Coordinators organise everything, from accommodation to coaches to activities and then come along too, both to deliver some of the experiences and to make sure everything runs smoothly. We understand that residentials are a big organisational undertaking and this added support can offer significant value and opportunity for professional development too.
Special - Our residentials include experiences which would be hard to access otherwise, from local partners to real farms and seasonal secrets our Coordinators create an experience of the countryside which is completely unique. Seeing the effects of covid have shown us where and how we can offer the most valuable experiences and 2023 promises to be our best year yet.
Contact us to find out more: email@example.com
We know there are a range of worries teachers face which make them nervous about planning a residential, particularly one outside the summer term. Some worry about being outside a lot when the weather is less predictable, especially if pupils are less likely, for whatever reason, to pack with a range of weathers in mind.
This year we have developed a relationship with The Outdoor Guide Foundation with the aim of finding ways to help schools ensure that pupils have access to good quality outdoor clothing. We aim to partner with businesses local to schools to fund outdoor kits to ensure children are dry and comfortable in all weather.
Others see residentials as a reward at the end of the year once everything else is ‘done’. It's also worth noting that The Brilliant Residentials Report in 2015 showed that residentials improve relationships between pupils and help teachers get to know their students better. They positively impact attendance, and attainment, and improve independent learning, creativity, vocabulary, subject-related skills and teamwork! It truly is an all-round educational experience. Our coordinators work with teachers to understand how residentials can help back in class, from team building to identifying curriculum links.
The majority of our residentials happen in the summer term. Schools love the increased chances of a sunny trip and the idea of a residential providing a release after an intensive year. However, The Country Trust has been running residentials for nearly 30 years and by our side for the whole journey has been a school that chooses to run its residential, late September to early October, every year.
The residential at Hague Primary School in Tower Hamlets is known as ‘School Journey’. Heave yourself up the 4 flights of stairs to the year 6 classroom and you find a small outpost of the Suffolk countryside. Following the October residential the outcomes of this experience scale the walls as pea plants and grow in raised beds on the roof terrace. They are packed into intricate journals and teeter as experimental miniature den structures. The books being read that term take on a new meaning when the landscapes described are now part of the lived experience of those who read them.
The residential is seen as a chance to bring children together, to give the teachers time to get to know them. It is a launch pad, the tantalising first paragraph of a book.
Knowing all this it feels clear to those of us working in the residential sector that schools should be clamouring for autumnal residential spaces. Those who do jump at the chance seem to get so much out of them.
From years of experience, I know how autumn residentials provide a real feast for learning opportunities and immersive sensory experiences. From puddle jumping to tasting the harvest, smelling autumn leaves to listening to the birds heading south for winter. Autumn residentials offer the chance for children to enjoy night walks and experience clear starry skies. It is also an undeniable truth that hot chocolate tastes so much better at this time of year.
We are looking to open up more opportunities to join our programme than ever before that look to reap the benefits of autumn and spring residentials across our three centres. We can only observe seals in Norfolk from late October through to March. The Yorkshire Dales are a designated Dark Sky reserve but the children are unlikely to see this unless they come in Autumn or Spring. The harvest at Berry Farm in Suffolk in October is like a supermarket sweep for the senses.
We wholeheartedly believe and have witnessed first-hand the value of a residential happening earlier in the academic year. We are developing more support than we have ever offered schools before to help them engage parents, plan a residential, and make sure that everyone has everything they need to make a residential a truly unforgettable and truly valuable experience.
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