Sam Seward is Managing Director of Edwin Doran Sports Tours, an LOtC1 accredited provider of sports-based learning outside the classroom. Schools take on average 2.7 residential trips a year, resulting in higher academic achievement – so why aren’t more schools taking up this option when such experiences yield such positive personal and academic outcomes he asks?
Learning outside the classroom and the acquisition of character education skills such as grit, resilience and determination has been proven to impact positively on academic results.
According to Ofsted, “when planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributes significantly to raising standards and improving students’ personal, social and emotional development.
Great life lessons can be learnt when students are taken out of their comfort zone and forced to address situations which they would not typically encounter. This helps them to be more adaptable, to gauge situations, become more intuitive and self aware. Strong lifelong friendships between team members also develop as they live together and help each other throughout the highs and lows of the competition.
So why aren’t more schools running such trips when they yield such positive outcomes?
The two main issues are cost and time.
In terms of cost, payment plans spread across several months offer one solution to parents keen to balance their budgets. Pupil premium funding in the state sector and bursaries in the private sector can also be used by schools to part or wholly fund trips for students from disadvantaged backgrounds so ensuring that they get the same opportunities as their peers.
Time taken can also prove an issue with trips, particularly those abroad, adding considerably to the workload of a teacher and the admin team. But help is now at hand as the first digital school trip management systems emerge onto the market helping teachers to dispense with the time-consuming task of preparing and mailing out numerous letters home and to personalise trips, upload photos, videos, itineraries and contingencies for extras such as meals and activities. Parents can register their interest using a simple online form, upload their child’s dietary requirements and passport information, significantly reducing the time spent by the school administrator entering data.
My first rugby tour to South Africa, aged 16, was a game changer for me. Plucked from my comfortable middle-class upbringing to spend 3 weeks far from my family in a pure ‘team environment’, I learnt self-reliance at the same time as a real sense of the importance of teamwork, respect and leadership. I was lucky enough to experience a home stay with a very traditional Afrikaner farming family near Kimberley, as well as being hosted by a poor black South African family on the Cape. I was exposed to hugely alien environments and values that have helped shape the way I am today.
The impact was considerable – it made me more resilient, independent and mature. I became culturally aware with a sense of the world and where I stood within it. The life skills I acquired helped focus my attention on academic achievement when I returned to school, refreshed and keen to realise my ambitions.
1 LOtC– Learning Outside the Classroom