From building self-esteem to wellbeing

Katie Paynter, Head of Pre-Prep at St Nicholas Prep, South Kensington highlights some of the benefits of school trips.

The Benefits of Residential Trips for Schools

As a society, we are undoubtedly becoming increasingly risk-averse and litigious.  Some may say we are in danger of smothering our children with rules, regulations and in cotton wool.

As we are all too aware, life is full of challenges, but we certainly owe it to our youngsters to equip them with the skills to recognise risk, to assess it sensibly and to react thoughtfully.  In many ways, it is possible to learn the basics in the classroom environment, but there can’t be a substitute for authentic experiences in the wider world. School residentials provide such opportunities for children to gain these experiences.  The offers today are wide-ranging. At St Nicholas Prep for example there’s camping, Bushcraft, adventure and outdoor pursuits, as well as trips overseas. Good schools are offering extensive experiences for our children from as young as Year 2.

June is ‘high season’ for school residentials, so it seems like the perfect time to reflect on their value and impact.

So, what are the benefits of residential school trips?

Often I hear people comment that ‘it’s a fun trip away’. Yes, fun is undoubtedly something schools strive for, but residentials are more than just that.  They are meaningful. We know the pressure on children in schools grows year on year. Today’s curriculum demands so much more than it did, even 10 years ago. With so much to cover and the pressure to achieve, the classroom can be an intense and demanding place. So residential trips for schools are not just beneficial, but are vital in providing balance, as well as a renewed enthusiasm for learning.  

They have a positive effect on children’s self-esteem and confidence levels, thereby improving emotional health and well-being. They offer a unique opportunity for children to claim their independence and make their own decisions.  Children may feel that they know their peers and teachers well from day-to-day contact in school, but the experience of living with them in a residential community can add a completely new dimension. It undeniably opens up opportunities for them to develop their interpersonal skills, including leadership, team work and trust and respect.  Even the down time of a residential where children can relax, play and take stock is hugely important in allowing them to make their own decisions and discover who they are. A school residential trip can bring about positive, long-term changes for pupils both in and out of the classroom. Their entire value can’t be underestimated.

Of course, no mention of school trips can ignore the possibility of danger. While accidents are distressing, statistics don’t support the level of concern that exists. Whilst care should always be taken, it is important to keep the fear of accidents in perspective.  Schools undertake rigorous risk assessments and utilise the skills of experienced and highly trained staff to lead activities at the specialist centres they visit. Although there will still be some doubting voices, giving in to risk aversion would be to deny our children life-changing, positive experiences and wonderful opportunities to learn.

Katie Paynter

Head of Pre-Prep

St Nicholas Preparatory School

23, Prince’s Gate, London


0207 225 1277

Pictures courtesy of PGL Travel Ltd’