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30 June 2015

Tuesday 30 June 2016

Our Chief Executive Rosie Ferguson on why she loves the Learning Away Report and why she thinks everyone who works with young people should read it.

If you haven’t yet seen it, take time this week to read this Learning Away Report that was launched last week by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation

It tells us that residential experiences, if properly planned and supported, deliver positive powerful outcomes for young people.The evidence shows that residentials develop young people’s self-confidence, support them to foster deeper relationships and build cohesion. More than this, though, the report found strong evidence that residentials also support students’ engagement with learning, their achievements, knowledge and skills, and can help young people have better experience of life transitions and develop leadership capabilities.

There are three reasons why I love it and think everyone who works with young people should read it.

1.    Primarily of course because it makes so well the case for something I believe in passionately; residential experiences for young people that give them intense new experiences to build relationships and learn and have fun in a totally different environment. At our two outdoor education centres Hindleap Warren and Woodrow High House we provide quality outdoor education to thousands of young people every year. We do a residential annually with our own senior team at London Youth because we think it makes us work better together all year round. And advocate absolutely for youth workers building residential experiences into their programmes. As the report outlines, they don’t always have to be expensive or adventurous, but just the space away from home with adults and peers makes a difference in itself.

2.    Because of its approach to partnership and improvement. The fact that it makes recommendations for schools, residential providers and policy makers – as well as recommending that young people are put at the heart of design and delivery – makes it not just a plea for support from government but a recognition that we can all make a contribution towards improving the accessibility, quality and impact of residential experiences.

3.    But actually I’m most impressed by Learning Away because it sets the bar for the way our sector should be making the case for what works. The combination of robust analysis of data captured over six years with strong qualitative interviews with teachers and young people; presented in an accessible format; make this an outstanding read and very difficult to ignore. This is what the Centre for Youth Impact and other evidence-based initiatives in the youth sector should be aiming for.

Huge recognition and thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation who had the passion and foresight to commission this long term piece of work and to Peter Carne and everyone involved for producing such a brilliant report. Here’s hoping more funders recognise the value of long term investment in evaluation that makes the case – not just for one organisation’s programme or intervention – but for the value of youth work itself and what works in delivering impact.