Ingestre_hall@sandwell.gov.uk 
"Creative learning at its best" 
01889 270225 
You don’t always get what you expect. Trump. Brexit. Who saw it coming? And persistent, at times torrential, rain in June. You didn’t bargain on that when you booked your summer educational visit and bought your shorts and shades, did you?! 
 
However, every cloud (and there are lots around as I write) has a silver lining – if you look hard enough. 
Hi-ho, the teacher on 5 Live found one. He’d taken his class to Chester Zoo last Tuesday, and it poured cold rain all day. Surely that spoiled the experience for the children? On the contrary, he said, it made it. The children wrapped up, got to see the animals without the crowds, got under cover for lunchtime, got loads of attention from zoo staff, did more in the afternoon, and will remember it for years to come because it was different. Way better than last year’s hassle of over-heating children, slippery sun cream and loads of people in the way. So, accidentally, it was better. But can you plan for an outcome like that? 
 
Well, it’s British weather, so you can’t exactly, but hold on….surely that sounds like the experience you’d be more likely to get in the autumn or winter! 
 
So, is summer really the best time to go? It can be for some visits and experiences – for example developing transition skills - but to get best value from residentials, I’d plan to go in the autumn or winter every time. 
 
The case is strong: not too hot; darker cooler nights with stars and torch walks and campfires and better sleepers; better appetites; no biting insects, nettles and hay-fever; and sets up the rest of the school year with transferable skills, shared experiences and reference points, and strong relationships. And, it’s cheaper. There is a cost to residentials in money, time and effort. Viewed as an investment, you want the best return, and this often offers it. Way better value; way better return on investment. What’s not to like? Ok, it might rain, or hail, or sleet; but we know that’s possible in June. It might even snow, though….wow, that could be brilliant! 
 
I’m not saying that summer residentials aren’t great. They are; and I’ve enjoyed working outdoors with groups every bit as much in the summer as at other times of the year. But, objectively, the arguments in favour of planning your residential visits for earlier in the school year really add up. There’s been a Learning Away “Winter Residentials” campaign over the past couple of years pointing out these benefits. And with the new Ofsted framework judging schools on their intent to have an ambitious curriculum developing skills beyond the academic, and including a Personal Development judgement, many schools are going to be looking carefully and creatively at how residential visits can provide support. 
 
Schools want best value and maximum return. I’d recommend working with residential learning providers to plan and structure your residential visits, with a focus on autumn and winter visits. 
 
It will be darker, it might be colder, it could be wetter – but with all that, you know you’ll get a silver lining. 
 
With best wishes, 
Richard Oakes - SRES Manager 
 
 
 
For Sandwell Residential Education Service's Winter Availability, click HERE
The Sandwell Residential Education Service website is under construction; our holding page is HERE 
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