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Benefits of School Residential Trips: Independence

 At COGO we are keen to share and shout about the benefits of school residential trips!

We’ve already written about how school residential trips can encourage inspiration and aspiration and how they can improve relationships and social interaction with pupils. This time, we bring to you a piece on how school residential trips can encourage and foster independent pupils. 

We recently had the opportunity to submit a question on the wonderful Monday night primary educational chat: #PrimaryRocks and we chose to ask: ‘What do you look for in a primary school residential trip?’. We had some great responses including lots of anecdotes of wonderful memories from school residential trips. However, amongst all the great responses and perspectives, what stuck out the most was the requirement to challenge pupils and enable them to learn ‘slices of independence’. With this in mind, we have brought together some of the research and opinions that support the fact that this is something primary school residential trips can achieve and support as a key outcome.

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley

Firstly, independence can mean different things to different individuals, however some of the characteristics of an independent individual are: possessing strong values, ability to think for oneself, a sense of personal capability with little doubts in ones’ abilities and personal awareness. It is in these characteristics that primary school residential trips can provide independence. There is research and results to show that pupils gain elements of these characteristics on a primary school residential trip. ‘The Learning Away Initiative’ and their Evaluative Report released in 2015 showed that primary school residential trips can provide pupils with improved confidence and better awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. In terms of characteristics, this is greater personal awareness and confidence in abilities; both factors that contribute to becoming an independent individual.

Furthermore, primary school residential trips certainly provide the opportunity for pupils to be challenged, another element of gaining independence. This comes with the nature of the activities; pupils are often trying something for the first time…something daring and exciting (all with the support of our qualified instructors of course!). Approaching something new requires courage and confidence. It is within this process that pupils learn that trying something new doesn’t have to be daunting and can result in great success.  This is done by allowing them to believe in their abilities and approach challenges more frequently in their daily lives.  Research results that support this theory include findings from the six year study concluded last year by The Royal Geographical Society. Their results showed that 78% of KS2 pupils felt more confident to try new things that they would not have done before the residential.

The other two aforementioned key elements of independence are: possessing strong values and the ability to think for oneself. This again is something that has the potential to be discovered at primary school residential trips. This reminded us of an article written by Ben Fogle late last year reflecting on how his education impacted who he became,. The article was titled: ’We need fewer exams and more wilderness in education”. A particular line in the article summarising his personal journey is: “feeling comfortable in the wild gave me the confidence to be who I am, not who others want me to be”. This suggests that Ben Fogle discovered personal strength through being outdoors and discovering new experiences. One of the key elements of school residential trips is to provide children with an experience outdoors and experiences in new environments. Therefore, new and alternative experiences that pupils gain on primary school residential trips, provides them with the opportunity to discover what experiences and environments they thrive in. Hence,  their own values and ability to think independently.

It is well known that independence is not something that you gain in one experience, it is something that is gained and built upon throughout a lifetime. However, it can be gained in parts and through different life experiences at different life stages. Therefore, with the right timing, we truly  hope that primary school residential trips can provide ‘slices’ of independence to pupils who attend our trips and begin to build foundations of pupils understanding what independence is and their own unique characteristics that will make them unique throughout life.

To find out more on our range of Primary School Residentials, go to the website, or read our Primary brochure.