Residential outdoor experiences – research shows it makes a difference to GCSE exam grades


A research explored the role of outdoor residential experiences on the educational attainment and confidence of a group of under achieving students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. To track the impact that residential visits had on educational attainment and changes in levels of confidence, the research design was a mixed methods, intervention, case study.  The project focused on two groups of students and followed these from age 14 to 16 years. The research comprised a group of 12 students as well as a control group of 12 students and were tracked  over a period of three years: the research group, who took part in twice yearly, three day residential visits and a comparison group that did not.

Headline findings – the school students attended was on Special Measures and was situated in a context of high social disadvantage. Overall GCSE results for the whole school was only 22% A* – C. Excitingly, the results for GCSE educational gains in terms of overall attainment (attainment 8) as well as attainment in GCSE English and Maths for the students in the research show that the attainment results were much better for the research group and that the difference in attainment between the two groups was statistically significant.

So outdoor residential experiences make a difference! Why then are these considered enhancement experiences and not something essential – with government interventions consistently failing to reduce the attainment gaps between the rich and the poor, now is the time to consider what education really is all about!

Ufton and University of Reading Executive Summary


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