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How to choose your next school outdoor activity residential

If you are a teacher searching for a brilliant school trip or a school residential, you will be faced by lots of varying and interesting options. Outdoor education is a key part of a young person's education and ensures they build confidence, resilience and improve life-skills.

 

However, a recent report showed that one-third of Key Stage 2 (KS2) pupils in Wales didn’t have the opportunity to attend an outdoor education residential in the 2022-2023 academic year (Evolve, 2023). This could be for many reasons but at Mendip Activity Centre, we are keen to ensure that as few barriers stand in the way as possible.

 

We spoke with two different primary school trip leaders, teachers Ally and Bev, to find out what they look out for when booking a school residential and how they ensure the process is as seamless as possible.


school children walking to their accommodation on their school trip
Mendip Activity Centre can host school groups of up to 200 in their tented villages

How do you go about picking an outdoor activity centre for your school residential?


Ally: Safeguarding is key - I need to be sure that the organisation we are booking with have systems in place that are tried and tested and well thought out. The sleeping arrangements are also important - with many children suffering from anxiety currently, it is important to know that where they will be staying is well set up and catered for.

 

Knowing that the activities on offer are good quality and that children will get the most out of their experience is also a must and that the staff running them are well-trained and experienced in working with young people. 

 

Bev: For me, researching centres is important- what the site offers the children for both activity experiences and life experiences. I recommend visiting a site for a preliminary visit before booking.


Child running across kayaks on their school residential
Challenging comfort zones on a kayaking session

What are your top tips for teachers organising a residential?


Ally: Organisation is the answer. I would have a working document that details key dates when things need to happen. This starts with communication with parents and children - launching the residential with a forum where they can ask questions is key. This is an advert, so to speak, to get families to 'buy in'. After this, ensuring that groupings and sleeping arrangements are organised prior to the event (but not communicated to children) is vital. Taking children through the risk assessments before you arrive is also helpful so that expectations are clear.  

 

Bev: Think about location and costings - needing a coach adds a lot of cost onto the trip. Plan well ahead and communicate with parents regularly.


Happy school pupils sitting on assault course equipment at Mendip Activity Centre
For many primary school students, going on a school residential might be their first time away from home.

Why should schools pick Mendip Activity Centre for their annual Year 6 school residential?


Ally: Mendip is a well-oiled machine! The staff employed there are incredibly well trained and are not only experts in their particular activity fields but great when working with children. The activities on offer are varied, well run and offer a variety of challenges. They are incredibly inclusive - I have taken children with a range of needs from long-term medical to short-term bone breaks and each time, children have been able to access activities and succeed.

 

Bev: Over many years of taking Year 6 children on a residential trip and staying at many different centres, Mendip Activity Centre is above the rest in terms of ease of booking and what the centre offers for the children as a place away from home/amazing staff/great facilities/great activity opportunities/yummy food – and plenty of it. The children love the whole experience and this is why we keep on coming back year after year.       



Do you have any favourite personal memories from school trips?


Bev: Seeing the children enjoying being out in nature and away from technology. The freedom the week offers to children who at home have limited life experiences. So many personal memories too as an adult supervising the children- it is the best week of my year!

 

Ally: Some of my Mendip highlights include pushing myself out of my own comfort zone with 'caving'. Unexpected weather meant we had to make a last-minute change to our activities; our group leader was fantastic in providing an alternative day which led to children (and adults) really pushing their limits.

 

Abseiling with terrified pupils is always a real buzz - knowing that between the instructors' encouragement and seeing their class teacher hanging off a cliff edge, children really can achieve anything they want is just fantastic.



Mendip Activity Centre provides year-round school residential activity camps for primary school pupils and secondary school students. Each week includes adventurous activities delivered by qualified outdoor instructors, nutrious catering and unique, comfortable accommodation.

Call: 01934 834877

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