24 targeted Key Stage 4 pupils from Wallsall Academy took part in this residential at the Outward Bound Trust’s Ullswater Centre in March 2020.

Walsall Academy's Outward Bound residential

The aim of the trip, which took over a year to plan, was to develop the children’s own drive for change and personal effectiveness through team-based activities as well as competition based around Expeditionary Learning practices.

The course had been developed over a number of years and was focused on a school based but also a National target of raising boys’ attainment. The group were predominately white working class males representative of the school catchment. The group taken were all classified as disadvantaged and live in one of the highest areas of deprivation in the country and all were achieving well below their expected levels of progress.

Shadow headteacher Jon Clarke explains what they did: “The week began with the two groups developing a shared set of values called the ‘HOWLS’ - Habits of Work and Learning. As their skills developed, their tasks increased in complexity culminating in a 36-hour non-stop adventure race across some of England’s highest mountains.

“You know you are having a real developmental process when at 1am after leaving the centre at 9am the previous morning, you are still high up in the mountains in snow being led by the group heading towards their brief rest point.”

The visit focused on personal development across all subject areas and curriculum. Once back at the school the groups met on a weekly basis to begin a structured course embedding the learning. During lockdown the programme has continued using web meetings and face-to-face sessions when possible. The students’ final challenge is to present their learning from the residential and the skills it developed, which they have presented to a group of invited guests and all of the groups’ parents/carers.

Learning objectives

The group fill in personal reviews of the development and are interviewed on camera which is then made into a film and shared with the funding agency. The Academic attainment is only one measure it has been found that the course has a positive impact on attendance and punctuality but also attitude towards work which is measured by teacher surveys.

The Academic impact of this particular course is yet to be assessed but the previous year the impact was a 0.5 positive residual on the progress 8 score of the group who undertook the course compared to a random sample control group. At present the findings from this course are being written up for a paper to be published by UCL.

About the ‘My Best School Trip’ Award

This award, which comes with a £1,500 prize for a future school trip, recognises educational visits that achieve their objectives and give children a rich and rewarding experience. To enter, teachers submitted overviews of a particular school trip, telling us about the impact it had. The 2020/21 finalists were chosen by the judging panel because of how they covered a number of areas including value and inclusivity.

The winner will be revealed during the ceremony which is currently scheduled to take place in spring 2021, for more information about the School Travel Awards go to schooltravelorganiser.com/awards

The ‘My Best School Trip’ Award: final four shortlisted